Arafat Denies Crisis

Within Government

JERUSALEM -- Palestinian Authority leader Yasser Arafat denied Saturday that his government was in crisis, even as new unrest broke out in the Gaza Strip.

In one incident, arsonists set fire to a police station in a neighborhood south of Gaza City, and in another, militants temporarily took over a municipal government building.

In his first public comments during more than a week of turmoil, Arafat told reporters that he had confidence in the continued leadership of Palestinian Prime Minister Ahmed Qureia, who submitted his resignation on July 17, only to have Arafat reject it.

The Palestinian Authority president denied blocking governmental reforms, particularly of the security forces, and declared that Qureia had full authority to make changes he desired.

In submitting his resignation, Qureia cited rising lawlessness in the streets of the West Bank and Gaza Strip. He has been frustrated by his powerlessness to make reforms to the police and military forces, historically under Arafat's direct control.


KAMPALA, Uganda -- Ugandan rebels fighting an 18-year insurgency in northern Uganda have killed dozens of civilians in southern Sudan in the past week, church and Sudanese rebel officials said.

Lord's Resistance Army fighters killed the civilians in villages near Kapeota, 466 miles south of Khartoum, the capital, said Rev. Paul Yugusuk, head of the Anglican church in Lomega, near Kapeota.


ISTANBUL, Turkey -- Three crew members were arrested after a train derailed in northern Turkey, killing 37 people, but critics accused the government of using the detentions to deflect blame.

Unions and engineers said transportation officials approved the high-speed train project, despite accusations that the country's aging rail system could not handle the faster train.


* BEIJING -- A court in southern China convicted 52 people of selling infants on the black market, sentencing six to death and five to life in prison, the New China News Agency reported.

The group was accused of trafficking 118 babies and was involved in two high-profile cases in March 2003 in which 28 baby girls were discovered in travel bags on a bus and 13 other babies were found being smuggled in the southern region of Guangxi.

* HANOI -- Bird flu outbreaks have spread to 10 provinces in southern Vietnam, local media reported.

The People's Army newspaper quoted national veterinary officials as saying the latest outbreaks were reported in Ben Tre and Kien Giang provinces in the Mekong Delta on July 21.


* MINSK, Belarus -- Authorities in Belarus, accused of stifling independent media, have shut the office of Russian state television after accusing it of exaggerating the size of a rally denouncing President Alexander Lukashenko.

-- From News Services