Australian Terrorism Suspects Saw

Reactor as a Target, Police Say

SYDNEY -- Members of an alleged Islamic terrorist cell in Sydney stockpiled bomb-making materials, trained at rural hunting camps and sized up Australia's only nuclear reactor as a possible target, a police report said Monday.

In a 20-page glimpse into Australia's biggest terrorism investigation, police said the eight suspects arrested last week had the know-how and were assembling chemicals, detonators, digital timers and batteries to carry out a major bomb attack.

A reactor used to make radioactive medicines and irradiated semiconductor parts, on the edge of Sydney, Australia's biggest city, was listed as a possible target, according to the report.

The eight men have been charged with conspiring to make explosives for use in a terrorist act. Ten other men, including a radical Muslim cleric, were arrested in Melbourne on charges of being members of a terror group. All 18 could face life imprisonment if convicted.


* MOSCOW -- President Vladimir Putin promoted two top Kremlin officials, both mentioned as possible presidential candidates in 2008, in a cabinet shake-up.

Defense Minister Sergei Ivanov will retain his post and also became a deputy prime minister, and Putin's chief of staff, Dmitry Medvedev, was named first deputy prime minister.

In another move, Putin named Sergei Sobyanin, governor of the oil-rich Tyumen region of Siberia, as his new chief of staff. Boris Makarenko of the Center for Political Technologies in Moscow described Sobyanin as a "strong, tough figure" and a politician in tune with the Putin era.


* KAMPALA, Uganda -- Police arrested an opposition leader and charged him with treason, touching off anti-government protests that police put down with tear gas, rubber bullets and water cannons.

Police said they suspected Kizza Besigye, who has mounted a strong challenge to President Yoweri Museveni's 19-year rule, of links to the Lord's Resistance Army. The rebel group is notorious for kidnapping children and using them as soldiers or concubines.

The Americas

* MEXICO CITY -- Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez accused Mexican leader Vicente Fox of being a "puppy" of President Bush and said: "Don't mess with me, sir." Fox shot back that "we have dignity in this country" and demanded an apology.

Now the two nations are withdrawing their ambassadors.

The severing of diplomatic relations came after a week of verbal sparring that highlighted Latin America's differences over trade policies and relations with the United States.

* TORONTO -- Canada's minority Liberal government rejected an opposition demand for general elections in February, a move that could topple Prime Minister Paul Martin's administration and force the first Christmas campaign in 26 years.

The country's three opposition party leaders on Sunday called on Martin to agree to dissolve Parliament in January and hold elections the next month or face a no-confidence motion that could bring down his government as early as next week.

The middle east

* JERUSALEM -- The eldest son of Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, facing trial on corruption charges in connection with fundraising activities for one of his father's election campaigns, has reached a plea deal with prosecutors, Israeli media reported Monday.

Omri Sharon has agreed to admit to charges of falsifying corporate documents, perjury and violating the party funding law, the Haaretz newspaper's Web site reported. In return, the prosecution would drop counts of fraud and breach of trust.


* KARACHI, Pakistan -- A powerful car bomb exploded outside the front entrance to a KFC restaurant in the southern Pakistan city of Karachi early Tuesday, killing at least three people and injuring 12 others, police said.

-- From News Services