Public Rallies Banned

After Blast in Pakistan

MULTAN, Pakistan -- The government banned religious and political gatherings nationwide after a bomb attack on Sunni Muslim radicals in central Pakistan on Thursday killed at least 39 people and wounded more than 100.

Two bombs planted in a car and motorcycle exploded at a pre-dawn gathering of about 3,000 Sunnis in the city of Multan in what police suspected was a sectarian attack.

About 2,000 angry Sunnis gathered outside a hospital where victims were taken, shouting, "Shiites are infidels!" and slogans against the government, witnesses said. They shattered the windshields of two ambulances and burned tires, sending black smoke into the air.

The bombings came six days after a suspected sectarian attack by a suicide bomber inside a crowded Shiite mosque in the eastern city of Sialkot during Friday prayers. That attack killed 31 people and injured more than 50.

Sunni Muslims make up about 80 percent of the 150 million people in Pakistan, and the rest are mostly Shiites. The vast majority of both branches of Islam live in harmony but radical elements on both sides carry out attacks.

Interior Minister Aftab Khan Sherpao announced Thursday that the government had banned public gatherings, except for Friday prayers.


* KABUL, Afghanistan -- A rocket slammed into the Afghan capital near the U.S. Embassy and other diplomatic missions early Friday, a day before the landmark presidential election. No damage or casualties were reported.

On Thursday, the Afghan government said drug smugglers -- not Taliban fighters -- were behind an attack Wednesday on one of President Hamid Karzai's running mates. One man was killed but Ahmed Zia Massoud, Karzai's running mate, was unhurt.

* TOKYO -- The court-martial of Charles Robert Jenkins, who surrendered last month to U.S. military authorities in Japan, is set to begin Nov. 3, the U.S. Army said. Jenkins will face charges that he deserted to North Korea four decades ago.


* PARIS -- A small bomb exploded outside the Indonesian Embassy in Paris on Friday, slightly wounding nine people, France's interior minister said. The bomb was in a package at the base of a flagpole. The blast shattered windows and damaged several cars.

* LONDON -- A part-time British soldier faces a court-martial next week in connection with fake pictures published in the Daily Mirror supposedly showing British troops abusing Iraqi prisoners, the Defense Ministry said Thursday. Defense sources identified the soldier as Pvt. Stuart Mackenzie.

* VIENNA -- Pope John Paul II named a prelate who investigated a child pornography scandal at a seminary to replace the bishop who resigned in the case, which rocked Austria's Roman Catholic Church. Bishop Klaus Kueng will head the diocese of St. Poelten.


* UNITED NATIONS -- Secretary General Kofi Annan appointed an five-member panel to investigate whether acts of genocide have taken place in the conflict in Sudan's western region of Darfur.

The Americas

* BOGOTA, Colombia -- Gabriel Puerta, one of Colombia's five most wanted drug traffickers, with a $5 million price on his head in the United States, was captured, Colombian police said.

-- From News Services