Romania and Turkey Report Bird Flu Cases

BUCHAREST, Romania -- Romania and Turkey reported new cases of avian flu on Saturday and began culling hundreds of birds to prevent the globally feared disease from spreading.

If the Romanian cases turn out to be the deadly H5N1 virus, they would be the first evidence the strain has spread to Europe from Asia, where it has killed 65 people and millions of birds since 2003.

Experts fear the H5N1 virus could mutate into one that spreads easily among humans, creating a pandemic that might kill millions.


* KAMPALA, Uganda -- The issuing of international arrest warrants for elusive Ugandan guerrilla leaders has ended any chance of negotiating an end to 19 years of civil war, the mediator between the government and the rebels said.

Uganda said on Friday that the International Criminal Court had issued its first five indictments for commanders of the brutal Lord's Resistance Army, a cult-like group that is notorious for killing and maiming children.

Betty Bigombe, a former Ugandan government minister who has tried for months to persuade the group to end the rebellion, said: "There is now no hope of getting them to surrender. I have told the court that they have rushed too much."


* SEOUL -- North Korea is stepping up efforts to resume full-scale distribution of food across the country, a sign the situation in the communist nation is improving, a U.N. relief agency said.

The World Food Program, which has been feeding an average of 6.5 million North Koreans during the last several years, said new ration cards had been issued to people and the government had banned cereal sales at markets in conjunction with its distribution program.

* BALI, Indonesia -- Police took to the air to press the search for the suspected planners of the recent bombings in Bali, using a helicopter to scatter pictures of the fugitives on another island where at least one of the pair was thought to be hiding.

Although they expressed confidence in the first days after the Oct. 1 bombings, Indonesian investigators have not announced any major breakthrough. They have yet to identify the attackers, even after having newspapers publish grisly pictures of the bombers' severed heads.

The Middle east

* JERUSALEM -- Israel and the Palestinians were moving toward agreement on new security arrangements for Gaza's border with Egypt, officials from both sides said, a deal that could allow Palestinian residents of the coastal strip relatively free movement for the first time.

The signs of progress came days before Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon and Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas were to meet for the first time since Israel's withdrawal from the Gaza Strip.

Also Saturday, the Palestinians broke ground on their first major development project in Gaza since the withdrawal -- a $100 million complex that will provide housing for 25,000 people. The development, funded by the United Arab Emirates, was being built on the site of the former Jewish settlement of Morag and was expected to take two years to complete.


* KIEV, Ukraine -- Nearly 360 schoolchildren in western Ukraine were hospitalized with food poisoning traced to a popular drink made of fermented milk, an emergency official said.

Four of the children were in critical condition.

Health Ministry official Tetiana Yurchenko said a preliminary investigation showed the source of infection as a dysentery bacteria in kefir, the drink made of fermented milk.

-- From News Services

A child cries while being injected with bird flu vaccine in the eastern Romanian village of Ceamurlia de Jos. On Friday, authorities said the country's first known cases of bird flu had been reported in that region. Three domestic ducks died. Also Friday, Turkish Farm Minister Mehdi Eker said bird flu had been discovered on a farm in Balikesir province near the Aegean Sea. Health experts fear the cases may involve the deadly H5N1 virus.