Religious Clashes Hit

War-Battered Liberia

MONROVIA, Liberia -- Violence between Muslims and Christians engulfed Liberia's war-battered capital Friday, with machete-wielding crowds rampaging through the streets and U.N. peacekeepers firing warning shots and tear gas to restore order as mosques and churches burned.

At least three people were inadvertently crushed to death under a U.N. armored vehicle trying to disperse a crowd, a policeman said. The number of dead and wounded elsewhere was unclear, with some residents reporting up to five dead. There was no official count.

The U.N. special envoy to Liberia, Jacques Klein, said U.N. troops and Liberian police detained 168 people. Peacekeepers were ordered to patrol through the night, and a round-the-clock curfew was ordered in Monrovia.

The day marked some of the worst violence in the capital since a rebel war ended last year when President Charles Taylor accepted a peace deal that entailed exile in Nigeria.


* PATTANI, Thailand -- Facing new violence and harsh criticism, Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra said he would set up an independent commission to investigate the deaths of 85 Muslims in southern Thailand, including 78 who suffocated or were crushed to death in military custody. The deaths occurred during and after a riot Monday in Narathiwat province.

* ISLAMABAD, Pakistan -- The U.S. Embassy warned Americans to stay away from Islamabad's Marriott Hotel after an explosion Thursday that wounded seven people. People voiced skepticism over Pakistani officials' explanation that the explosion was caused by an electrical short-circuit and not a bomb.

* PHNOM PENH, Cambodia -- Standing before golden statues of his ancestors and blessed by monks whose chants filled a hall in the Royal Palace, Norodom Sihamoni, 51, a former ballet dancer, took the throne from his father, Norodom Sihanouk.


* PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti -- At least 170 people have been killed by gunfire in recent violence in Haiti, most of them from slum strongholds of backers of ousted president Jean-Bertrand Aristide, a human rights group said.

An additional 241 people have been wounded by gunshots in violence from Sept. 1 to Oct. 26, the local branch of the New York-based National Coalition for Haitian Rights said, citing hospital records. Several others have been killed in the past two days, including four allegedly executed near the slum of Bel-Air.

* SAN JOSE, Costa Rica -- A Costa Rican appeals court judge ordered the former head of the Organization of American States jailed while prosecutors prepare charges against him for allegedly accepting kickbacks when he was the nation's president.

Miguel Angel Rodriguez had been under house arrest for two weeks. He resigned as head of the OAS on Oct. 8, after a probe was announced into allegations that he received payments from the French telecommunications company Alcatel.

Another former president, Jose Figueres, resigned as chief executive of the World Economic Forum on Friday after confirming that he received more than $900,000 for consulting services to Alcatel, the forum said.

A third former president, Rafael Calderon, has been detained over alleged payments on a Finnish contract.

-- From News Services