Corsica Nearly Cut Off

After Strikes, Attack

AJACCIO, France -- Corsica was nearly cut off from mainland Europe on Friday as strikes spread to airports and maritime links were severed following a rocket attack.

The unrest on the French Mediterranean island, sparked by plans to privatize a state ferry company, was shaping up as one of the most serious tests for Prime Minister Dominique de Villepin.

On Thursday, a rocket attack targeted a government building in Ajaccio, on the west coast. No injuries were reported and no one immediately asserted responsibility.

Nationalists have joined strikers in protests this week against the privatization plans, particularly after Villepin called Wednesday on police commandos to retake a ferry commandeered by striking sailors.


* ALGIERS -- Algerians overwhelmingly approved a peace plan that provides a broad amnesty for Islamic extremists, official referendum results showed. Critics denounced it as a whitewash of crimes committed during a bloody internal war.

The plan received more than 97 percent of Thursday's vote, said Interior Minister Noureddine Yazid Zerhouni. Nearly 80 percent of eligible voters cast ballots, he said.

President Abdelaziz Bouteflika said the plan would help close the wounds from the violence that killed an estimated 150,000 people. The insurgency erupted in 1992 after the army canceled a second round of voting in Algeria's first multiparty legislative elections to thwart a likely victory by the now-banned Islamic Salvation Front.


* MADRID -- Spain said two of the five people killed when hundreds of would-be immigrants stormed fences between Morocco and the Spanish enclave of Ceuta were shot dead.


* BAIKONUR, Kazakhstan -- A Soyuz rocket carrying U.S millionaire scientist Gregory Olsen and a Russian-American crew lifted off Saturday from the Central Asian steppe, launching the world's third space tourist on a two-day journey to the international space station. As the spacecraft entered orbit, the crew reported all was well aboard.

On Friday, visiting NASA Administrator Michael Griffin said a 2000 U.S. law banning space station-related payments to Russia because Moscow helped Iran build a nuclear plant "could end a continuous American presence" on the station.

* TOKYO -- The Osaka High Court ruled that Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi's visits to a Tokyo war shrine violated the constitutional separation of state and religion, but rejected a group of Taiwanese plaintiffs' demands for compensation.

* KABUL, Afghanistan -- Guards for a U.S. security firm obstructed an investigation into whether one of its supervisors fatally shot his Afghan interpreter, an Afghan police chief said. Noor Ahmad, 37, was shot in the head Tuesday at the compound of his employer, U.S. Protection and Investigations, in Farah province, police and provincial officials said.

Elsewhere, a roadside bomb wounded four U.S. service members in eastern Konar province, the U.S. military said.

* HANOI -- Soldiers scoured northern Vietnam for survivors after Typhoon Damrey triggered flash floods and landslides that left at least 60 people dead or missing.

-- From News Services