Palestinians Loot Offices

Over Arafat Appointment

RAMALLAH, West Bank -- Protesters sacked and burned Palestinian government offices Sunday after Yasser Arafat, the Palestinian leader, chose a loyalist cousin, Moussa Arafat, as his new security chief. The incident propelled into the open the anger felt by Palestinian militants, including some of Arafat's officers, over corruption and cronyism.

Protesters broke into a building of the Palestinian Authority in the southern Gaza city of Khan Younis and burned two offices. A security guard was wounded in a gunfight. Dozens of masked gunmen marched through the Nusseirat refugee camp in central Gaza after sundown Sunday, chanting, "No to Moussa Arafat, yes to reform."

In the Rafah refugee camp, gunmen exchanged fire with guards at preventive security headquarters and attempted to break into the complex with a bulldozer. The guards wounded three attackers, but there were no casualties to the security forces, personnel at the building said. A Palestinian freelance reporter on assignment for the Reuters news agency was shot in the leg during the Rafah firefight and was in stable condition at a hospital, Reuters said.

The unrest began after Arafat issued a decree consolidating about a dozen security branches into three services, a key element of reforms backed by the United States and Egypt to revive deadlocked peace efforts.

Navy chief Gomma Ghali, an Arafat loyalist, handed in his resignation to protest the appointment, joining the head of intelligence and the head of the preventative security, who resigned Friday. Palestinian Prime Minister Ahmed Qureia submitted his resignation Saturday over growing turmoil in the Gaza Strip. Arafat said he has not accepted the resignations.

At a rare news conference, Moussa Arafat brushed aside protests over his appointment. "I take my orders from His Excellency President Arafat," he said, seated below a huge portrait of his mentor. "He is the only one who can ask me to quit my job."

Previously the head of the Palestinian intelligence services, Moussa Arafat has a reputation for ruthlessness. In 1996, during a roundup of Hamas and Islamic Jihad militants, Moussa Arafat shaved the heads and beards of the men he imprisoned to humiliate them. Human rights groups accused him of torture.


* JAKARTA, Indonesia -- A woman priest was killed and four people were wounded when gunmen opened fire on a church service in eastern Indonesia, police said on Monday. The attack occurred Sunday as Christians gathered at the church in the city of Palu in Central Sulawesi province, near the town of Poso -- the site of bloody Muslim-Christian clashes that have killed some 2,000 people since 1999.

* KABUL, Afghanistan -- U.S. forces have detained a former Taliban commander two months after praising him for backing the country's new order, officials said. Ghulam Mohammed Hotak was seized in Wardak province, southwest of Kabul, on Saturday, said Defense Ministry spokesman Gen. Zaher Mohammed Azimi. Mohammed, his brother and one of his nephews were detained "because they have links to the Taliban," Azimi said.

* TOKYO -- Former Pakistani prime minister Benazir Bhutto said her country bought long-range missile technology from North Korea in the 1990s, but decided against offering nuclear secrets in exchange, a Japanese newspaper reported. In an interview with the Asahi Shimbun, Bhutto said military officials proposed in 1988 that Pakistan swap its nuclear technology for the missiles. But her administration decided instead to pay North Korea for the missiles.

"There were people who proposed securing massive funds by selling nuclear" technology, Bhutto was quoted as saying. "But there were actually only two or three countries that would be buyers, amounting to only about $200 billion or $300 billion. So I persuaded them to drop the idea."

* TOKYO -- A former U.S. soldier accused of deserting to North Korea 39 years ago arrived in Japan with his wife and two North Korean-born daughters after flying from Indonesia to face an uncertain fate. The United States has said it would request custody of Charles Robert Jenkins, 64, a former U.S. Army sergeant, over the desertion charges. But in what may be a tacit agreement with Japan, it might delay doing so while he undergoes medical treatment.

* DHAKA, Bangladesh -- Attackers threw a homemade bomb at a hotel in the capital of Bangladesh, injuring two employees, according to police and the hotel's manager. Police were investigating the Saturday night blast at the downtown Hotel Asia, said police chief Mahbubur Rahman. The motive of the attack was not known, he said. On Saturday, G.M. Srivastava, police chief of the northeastern Indian state of Tripura, reported that 25 Indian separatists taking refuge in Bangladesh were killed in an attack on a hotel but a subsequent visit by an Associated Press reporter showed no signs of a shootout. Srivastava said he stood by his claim.


* RIYADH, Saudi Arabia -- A man was beheaded in the Saudi capital for attempting to rape a woman in her home, the Interior Ministry said. The conservative kingdom, which implements strict sharia, or Islamic law, executes convicted murderers, rapists and drug traffickers, usually by public beheading with a sword. The beheading brought the number of people executed in Saudi Arabia this year to nine.

-- From News Services