France Beefs Up Ivory Coast Forces

ABIDJAN, Ivory Coast -- Hundreds of French troops, dozens of armored vehicles and several helicopters docked here yesterday to reinforce French troops who again clashed with Ivory Coast rebels the day before.

Members of the French Foreign Legion and elite reconnaissance forces were among the roughly 300 new arrivals, beefing up the French forces in the former French colony to about 2,500.

French troops are charged with enforcing an often-violated cease-fire and protecting French citizens and other foreign nationals caught in a three-month war that has killed hundreds and crippled the world's largest cocoa producer.

Recently, however, French soldiers have been drawn deeper into the conflict, clashing with rebels in the coffee- and cocoa-rich west while also offering to host peace talks.

Associated Press


Detainee Admits Role in Bus Bombing

KARACHI, Pakistan -- An Islamic militant detained for allegedly planning an attack on U.S. diplomats has admitted playing a key role in a bus bombing that killed 11 French engineers, police said.

Asif Zaheer, 24, told police he prepared the explosives-laden car used in a May 8 suicide bombing of the bus, an attack that killed the engineers and three Pakistanis, including the bomber, said Farooq Awan, a senior police official in Karachi.

Zaheer has not been charged in the alleged plot against the diplomats or the bus bombing in Karachi. A judge ordered him held for at least two more weeks while authorities continue investigating his alleged role in the incidents. Under Pakistan's anti-terrorist law, a suspect can be kept in custody for one year without being charged.

Zaheer was among three men arrested this month for allegedly planning an attack on U.S. diplomats in Karachi that was foiled by police. Authorities seized about 250 sacks of ammonium nitrate, a fertilizer used in explosives, after the arrests.

Zaheer is also suspected in connection with the killing of a television producer in the capital, Islamabad, earlier this year.

Associated Press

THE middle east

U.S., Turkey Agree on Aid Package

ANKARA, Turkey -- U.S. officials said they made progress on a possible aid package to help protect Turkey's struggling economy from any damage caused by a possible war in Iraq.

"We've established an agreement on the overall structure of the assistance," John B. Taylor, the Treasury Department's undersecretary for international affairs, said at the end of two days of talks in Ankara, the Turkish capital.

Taylor did not elaborate on the scope of aid. Turkish news reports have said Turkey wants up to $28 billion.

Turkey was a staging point for air raids during the 1991 Persian Gulf War, and its support is crucial to any U.S. military operation against Iraq. But Turkey prefers a peaceful solution to the situation, fearing a new war could devastate its economy and destabilize the region.

Turkish newspapers say Washington is looking to use Turkish bases, ports and railroads and possibly deploy tens of thousands of troops to Turkey. The U.S. and Turkish governments have not confirmed any of the reports.

Turkey says it has lost up to $40 billion in trade with Iraq over the past decade.

Associated Press


A gunman shot and killed a senior Yemeni politician who was a guest at an Islamic party's congress, security officials said. Jarallah Omar, the deputy secretary general of the Yemeni Socialist Party, was shot minutes after he delivered a speech at the annual congress of the Islamic Reform Party in the capital, Sanaa. . . . Eight members of the banned spiritual movement Falun Gong were sentenced to up to 13 years in prison for briefly taking over local television and radio signals in May in eastern China's Anhui province, the official New China News Agency said.