Saudi Special Forces

Storm Militant Hideout

DAMMAM, Saudi Arabia -- In a barrage of gunfire and explosions, Saudi special forces overran a seaside villa Tuesday where Islamic militants had been holed up, ending three days of heavy fighting that killed at least nine people.

Security forces that swept into the building in the eastern city of Dammam found several charred bodies, apparently those of militants killed in explosions -- suggesting the death toll from the fighting would rise.

It was the fiercest clash in months in the kingdom's two-year crackdown on al Qaeda-linked militants.

THE MIDDLE EAST

* BENI SUEF, Egypt -- Survivors of a blaze that killed 32 people in a crowded theater said only one exit was available as the audience stampeded in panic, and authorities were looking into possible fire code violations.

Monday night's fire was believed to have begun when an actor knocked over a candle, igniting a paper-filled set during a production at the government-run Culture Palace in Beni Suef, a farming city of 200,000 about 60 miles south of Cairo.

europe

* ROME -- Italy expelled a Moroccan-born imam known for his radical positions, saying he represented a danger to public security.

Bourki Bouchta was picked up from his home in the northern city of Turin and put on a plane to Morocco at Milan's Malpensa airport, the Interior Ministry said in a statement. The statement said authorities were considering taking similar steps against other foreigners in Italy.

* LONDON -- European Union states may have to accept an erosion of some individual civil liberties if their citizens are to be protected from organized crime and terrorist attacks, said Britain's home secretary, Charles Clarke.

Clarke said concerns over invasion of privacy were outweighed by the need to provide safety and warned judges in European courts that if they failed to recognize this, the European Convention of Human Rights might need to be changed.

Asia

* MANILA -- Legislators ended the impeachment case against President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, leaving the streets as the last resort for the frustrated opposition.

Although 10,000 people turned out for an anti-Arroyo protest, that was a tiny fraction of the size of "people power" revolts that ousted two leaders in the last two decades, and the protest quickly lost steam.

* TOKYO -- Typhoon Nabi lashed southern Japan and South Korea, killing five people, injuring dozens and forcing tens of thousands to flee their homes.

-- From News Services