Pakistani Shiites Riot

After Mosque Bombing

SIALKOT, Pakistan -- Thousands of minority Shiite Muslims rampaged through an eastern Pakistan city Saturday in a riot sparked by a suicide bombing at a Shiite mosque that killed 31 people.

Rioters set fire to a police station and the mayor's office in Sialkot, destroyed several motorcycles and attacked a court. Firefighters rushed to the scene, while troops tried to restore order. There were no immediate reports of injuries.

The violence broke out after about 15,000 mourners, beating their chests and wailing, gathered for a funeral for victims of Friday's bombing at the Zainabia mosque. The bombing also wounded more than 50 people.

EUROPE

* LONDON -- Prime Minister Tony Blair was back at work after successful heart surgery, but his vow to hold on to power for five more years has sparked fevered speculation about who might succeed him and when.

Blair left his Downing Street office in the morning for Chequers, his official country residence, where his spokesman said he planned to do some paperwork over the weekend.

* VATICAN CITY -- The Vatican's top official for family issues decried as a "sad step" the Spanish government's proposal to allow homosexuals to marry and adopt children.

The remarks on Vatican Radio by Cardinal Alfonso Lopez Trujillo, president of the Pontifical Council for the Family, kept up Pope John Paul II's campaign against gay marriage.

Also, the pope denounced kidnappers for using captives as bargaining chips, and said journalists were paying a heavy price in their work during conflicts.

ASIA

* NEW DELHI -- Envoys of Tibet's spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama, had "good" meetings during their trip to China aimed at building contacts, a spokesman for the Tibetan government-in-exile said without giving details.

Lodi Gyari, a U.S.-based representative of the Dalai Lama, and three colleagues were in China from Sept. 12 to discuss the future of the Himalayan region. The trip was the third visit by envoys in just over two years. They returned to India on Friday.

* BEIJING -- A Chinese policeman shot and killed the head of a Tibetan Buddhist monastery after he and other monks demanded that police pay for medical treatment they sought after allegedly being beaten in custody, a U.S.-based broadcaster reported.

THE MIDDLE EAST

* CAIRO -- Italy's deputy premier suggested that his country could pull its troops out of Iraq after elections scheduled for January, saying they will no longer be needed when a representative government is in place.

The remarks by Gianfranco Fini, made after a meeting with the secretary general of the Arab League, Amr Moussa, were the first public indication of when Italy might withdraw its 2,700 troops from Iraq.

* SANAA, Yemen -- A Yemeni court sentenced a judge who supported an anti-U.S. cleric to 10 years in jail for sedition, fanning sectarian discord and forming an armed gang, the official Saba news agency reported. Judge Mohamed Ali Loqman, arrested in July, was found guilty of supporting anti-U.S. cleric Hussein Houthi -- killed by Yemeni forces last month -- by setting up a branch of his Believing Youth group.

AFRICA

* KANO, Nigeria -- Nigeria's president kicked off a mammoth effort to immunize 80 million children against polio in 23 African countries, described by international health experts as "the single-largest public health campaign" in history to wipe out the disease.

Meanwhile, a militia leader who threatened "full-scale" war in this country's oil-rich Niger Delta made a triumphant return to his southern stronghold on, one day after making a tentative deal in the capital to disarm his fighters.

-- From News Services