18 People Killed

In Ivory Coast Fighting

BOUAKE, Ivory Coast -- Government warplanes and helicopter gunships pounded rebel-held towns in northern Ivory Coast for a second day on Friday, fueling fears of a slide into all-out war in the world's top cocoa grower.

A U.N. spokesman said 18 people, including two rebels, had been killed in the bombings. He said U.N. peacekeepers stopped army troops trying to cross into the buffer zone separating the country's rebel-held north from the government-run south -- a development that suggested a ground offensive might soon follow the air attacks.

French Defense Minister Michele Alliot-Marie said the United Nations may beef up the mandate of peacekeeping troops in Ivory Coast to prevent fighting between government forces and rebels.

The African Union expressed deep concern and was to hold an emergency meeting of top officials on Saturday.


* AMSTERDAM -- A Dutch-Moroccan man accused of killing a filmmaker critical of Islam has been charged with membership in a group with "terrorist intentions" and conspiracy to murder a politician, Dutch news agency ANP reported.

The 26-year-old defendant, identified by Dutch media as Mohammed B., was charged with the murder of film director Theo van Gogh, who was stabbed and shot as he cycled to work in Amsterdam on Tuesday, ANP quoted prosecutors as saying.

He was also charged with conspiracy to murder prominent parliamentarian Ayaan Hirsi Ali, who wrote a film Van Gogh directed that accused Islam of encouraging violence against women.

"We will argue before the judge that he is at the center of a criminal organization and that the other arrested people are part of this group," prosecutor Leo de Wit said.

* MOSCOW -- Russia gave final approval to the Kyoto Protocol on global warming as President Vladimir Putin signed legislation ratifying the landmark environmental pact that seeks to slow global warming by reducing greenhouse-gas emissions.

* TBILISI, Georgia -- President Mikhail Saakashvili said Georgia will increase its troop contribution to the U.S.-led mission in Iraq. He did not say how many more troops would be deployed.


* BANGKOK -- Muslim separatists are stepping up violence in southern Thailand in hopes of a brutal government response that would boost foreign support for their aims, Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra said.

The separatists, who have been targeting Buddhists in the largely Muslim region since 85 Muslim protesters died last week, were trying to attract recruits and intimidate non-Muslims into leaving the area, he said.

"They want to stir our anger, prompt us to use brute force and spread the news. Then their sympathizers overseas will throw in their support," Thaksin said.

At least 15 people, most of them Buddhists, have been killed by militants since last week's deaths.

* KABUL, Afghanistan -- Militants claiming to hold three U.N. hostages in Afghanistan postponed a Friday deadline for carrying out their threat to kill the trio, giving U.N. and Afghan officials another day to open negotiations.


* CALLAO, Peru -- The founder of Peru's Maoist Shining Path insurgency raised a defiant fist and proclaimed "glory to Marxism" in court as the government retried him on terrorism charges a decade after he was sentenced to life in prison.

The proceedings against Abimael Guzman, 69, were quickly suspended as his 15 co-defendants joined him, standing up and chanting revolutionary slogans.

The life sentence against Guzman was overturned last year by Peru's Constitutional Tribunal, which declared that the secret military court that convicted him was unconstitutional. Prosecutors filed new charges in civilian court.

A truth commission last year blamed the Shining Path for more than half of the nearly 70,000 deaths in the 1980-2000 guerrilla conflict and brutal state backlash.

* SANTIAGO, Chile -- In a surprise reversal, the Chilean army for the first time assumed institutional responsibility for widespread human rights violations during the 1973-90 dictatorship of Gen. Augusto Pinochet. The army statement was published as the government prepared to make public a new report about abuses in the Pinochet years.

* RIO DE JANEIRO -- Brazil pledged to add 500 peacekeepers to the U.N. mission it heads in Haiti and promised to reach out to deposed Haitian president Jean-Bertrand Aristide, now in South Africa, in an attempt to quell recent violence.

-- From News Services