Polio Vaccines Resume in Nigeria

After a State's 11-Month Boycott

TAKAI, Nigeria -- The governor of a heavily Muslim state in Nigeria poured drops of polio vaccine into babies' mouths Saturday, signaling the state's resumption of vaccinations after an 11-month ban threatened a global campaign to eradicate the disease.

U.N. officials expressed relief as health workers carried out a door-to-door vaccination campaign in the northern state of Kano, epicenter of a growing African outbreak of the potentially crippling disease.

The governor assured parents at a ceremony in the village of Takai the vaccines were harmless.

A dozen other African nations will be immunizing later in the year.

Nigeria has had nearly 400 cases of polio as of this week, -- 85 percent of the global total and four times the number recorded in the same period in 2003. One quarter of Nigeria's cases are in Kano.

THE AMERICAS

* CARACAS, Venezuela -- A Venezuelan court has ordered the arrest of 59 dissident military officers accused of rebellion for taking part in protests against President Hugo Chavez nearly two years ago, the state news agency reported.

The arrest orders came after Chavez and government officials stepped up accusations that his opponents plan to use violence to disrupt an Aug. 15 recall referendum on his rule.

* BOGOTA, Colombia -- Colombian police arrested two suspected rebels carrying four grenades and pencil-drawn blueprints of the presidential palace and other government sites. The men, both 18, also had blueprints of the Congress building when arrested.

EUROPE

* ATH, Belgium -- The death toll from Belgium's worst industrial disaster in recent history rose to 16 and the number was expected to edge still higher as doctors struggled to save victims of the massive gas explosion.

Shocked by the ferocity of the blast, Belgians crowded into Red Cross offices to donate blood, trying to do anything they could to help the wounded.

* BERLIN -- Berlin's refurbished Olympic Stadium was reopened with festive ceremonies that Germans hope will give the arena first built for the 1936 Olympics a new image less burdened by its Nazi past.

Eager to exorcise the ghosts of Adolf Hitler and Nazi notions of Aryan supremacy, the federal government provided most of the $290 million it took to repair and modernize the 74,845-seat stadium in a major four-year overhaul. Officials said it was essential to face up to the stadium's history to come to terms with its past.

* WARSAW -- Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder on Sunday will become the first German head of state to attend Poland's annual commemorations of the failed 1944 Warsaw Uprising against Nazi occupation.

ASIA

* KANDAHAR, Afghanistan -- Gunmen killed a local government leader and four of his bodyguards in an ambush in southern Afghanistan, and a mine injured three election workers.

* DHAKA, Bangladesh -- Flood-weakened riverbanks collapsed around villages, pushing the death toll from this season's monsoons in four South Asian countries above 1,500 and stranding more than 30 million people in homes and schools, along highways and atop mud embankments, officials said.

-- From News Services