Threats Lead to Closing

Of Schools in Thailand

BANGKOK -- Violence in Thailand's Muslim-dominated south forced hundreds of schools to close Wednesday, while two lawmakers scuffled in parliament over the government's handling of a riot in the region last week in which 85 people were killed.

Seven people were killed when police opened fire on Muslim protesters and 78 others were suffocated or crushed in military custody after being stacked on top of one another in trucks taking them to detention centers five hours away.

Warnings that Muslim insurgents might try to abduct Buddhist teachers and students prompted most rural schools in the country's three southernmost provinces of Narathiwat, Yala and Pattani to close until at least Monday, officials said.

The closures came a day after a Buddhist community leader in Narathiwat was beheaded. A note near his severed head said the killing was in revenge for the deaths of the Muslim demonstrators last week.


* BOGOTA, Colombia -- Seven members of the federal prosecutor's office were suspended for suspicion of helping a Marxist rebel leader break out of its heavily protected Bogota headquarters, an official said.

Hernando Buitrago, a senior member of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or FARC, used a buzz saw Monday night to escape a building monitored by close-circuit television and patrolled by armed guards and dogs.

"We are supposing he had to have received help from officials; otherwise, there's no way to explain how he got away despite video cameras and guards," a spokesman said.

Security forces had considered the capture of Buitrago in July a major blow against the 17,000-member rebel group, which has been waging a guerrilla war for 40 years.

* GUATEMALA CITY -- The United States issued a security warning for Guatemala after a series of attacks on U.S. citizens. A statement from the U.S. Embassy said there had been three serious assaults on U.S. citizens in 10 days. In two of them, minors were raped. The embassy statement said police might have been involved in some of the attacks.

* GUATEMALA CITY -- Hundreds of former right-wing paramilitary fighters blocked roads across Guatemala to demand compensation for aiding the former military rulers' fight against Marxist rebels during a 36-year civil war.

The former fighters halted access to Guatemala City's international airport, Port Quetzal on the Pacific coast and roads to the Mexican border. Traffic lines stretched five miles outside the capital.

Rights groups accuse the militias of involvement in massacres, rapes and torture.

* VIENNA -- The U.N. atomic watchdog agency has tentatively agreed to a deal with Brazil that allows inspectors a partial view of sensitive fuel enrichment technology but satisfies concerns that the country's nuclear programs are peaceful, diplomats said.


* KARACHI, Pakistan -- A man opened fire with an automatic weapon inside a Sunni Muslim mosque in Karachi, killing at least one person and wounding two, police said. The attack occurred in a low-income neighborhood of North Karachi.

"It is too early to say whether it's an act of terrorism or the result of personal enmity. We are investigating," a police spokesman said.


* ABU DHABI, United Arab Emirates -- Hours after the burial of the country's president, Sheik Zayed bin Sultan Nahayan, his son, Sheik Khalifa bin Zayed Nahayan, was appointed to replace him. The succession was decided by the Supreme Council, which includes the leaders of the seven constituent emirates.

-- From News Services