ASIA

Bangladesh Hit by Bombs

DHAKA, Bangladesh -- A series of near-simultaneous bomb blasts at four Bangladesh cinemas packed with families celebrating the end of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan killed 15 people and wounded nearly 300, police said yesterday.

The bombs went off at movie theatres in and around the normally quiet tourist town of Mymenshingh, 95 miles north of the capital, at 6 p.m. It was unclear whether the bombs had been planted earlier or were suicide attacks.

About 50 of the wounded were in critical condition, doctors said.

Home Minister Altaf Hossain Chowdhury said the attacks could be the work of Osama bin Laden's al Qaeda network or another terrorist group and ordered a national security alert.

Reuters

AFRICA

Ivorians Describe Killing

MONOKO-ZOHI, Ivory Coast -- Describing some of the worst bloodletting in Ivory Coast's two-month war, villagers said uniformed soldiers killed 120 people in a western hamlet, dumping some dead in wells and leaving survivors to bury the rest.

Ivory Coast's army denied any wrongdoing, saying first that the killers were rebels and then that the dead were rebels killed in fighting with government troops.

But villagers said most of the dead were people who worked on the region's lush cocoa and coffee fields.

Associated Press

EUROPE

Miss World Crowned

LONDON -- A 21-year-old Turkish model and dancer took the Miss World crown in a contest moved to Britain from Nigeria after deadly Muslim-Christian riots sparked by controversy over the pageant killed more than 200 people.

Miss Turkey, Azra Akin, stood proudly while her national anthem was played, after she accepted the glittering tiara and a $156,000 prize from last year's winner, Nigeria's Agbani Darego.

Akin, who turns 21 today and was raised by her Turkish parents in the Netherlands, plays the flute and listed her passions as ballet and belly dancing.

Miss Colombia, Natalia Peralta, was declared the runner-up. Miss United States, Rebekah Revels of North Carolina, was among the 10 finalists.

Reuters

Turkey's Azra Akin, right, newly crowned Miss World, receives a hug from last year's winner, Agbani Darego of Nigeria, in London.