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World digest

World digest

Saturday, October 30, 2004

Muslim, Christians clash in Liberia

MONROVIA, Liberia - Violence between Muslims and Christians engulfed Liberia's war-battered capital Friday, with machete-wielding crowds rampaging through the streets and U.N. peacekeepers firing warning shots and tear gas to restore order amid burned mosques and churches.

At least three people were killed - inadvertently crushed under the wheels of a U.N. armored vehicle trying to disperse a crowd, a policeman said. The number of dead and wounded elsewhere was unclear, with some residents reporting up to five dead. There was no official count.

The U.N. special envoy to Liberia, Jacques Klein, said U.N. troops and Liberian police detained 168 people, and peacekeepers were ordered to patrol through the night. Klein, an American, said he had ordered peacekeepers to "react with maximum force, and this means shoot to kill."

It was unclear what sparked the mayhem.

European leaders sign EU constitution

ROME - European leaders on Friday signed the EU's first constitution, a diplomatic triumph that they hope will give the union a sharper international profile and speed up decision-making in a club now embracing 25 nations.

The treaty was the result of 28 months of sometimes acrimonious debate between the 25 EU governments and now faces ratification in national parliaments. At least nine EU nations also plan to put it to a referendum, increasing chances that it may not take effect in 2007 as scheduled.

A "no" result in any country would stop the constitution in its tracks.

The EU leaders signed the document at the Campidoglio, a Michaelangelo-designed complex of buildings on Rome's Capitoline Hill, along with the leaders of Romania, Bulgaria, Turkey and Croatia - four candidates for EU membership.

The constitution foresees simpler voting rules to end decision gridlock in a club that ballooned to 25 members this year and plans to absorb half a dozen more in the years ahead. It includes new powers for the European Parliament and ends national vetoes in 45 new policy areas - including judicial and police cooperation, education and economic policy - but not in foreign and defense policy, social security, taxation or cultural matters.

Oscar Wilde trove auctioned in London

LONDON - A handwritten chapter of Oscar Wilde's novel, "The Picture of Dorian Gray," written by the author at the behest of his publishers and including the scandalous visit of the title character to an opium den, has been sold for $132,000.

The heavily revised text was one of several pieces of memorabilia auctioned Friday on behalf of a private buyer by Sotheby's. A signed first edition of "The Picture of Dorian Gray" fetched $770,000.

The trove of material, described by Sotheby's as "the finest collection of Oscar Wilde material remaining in private hands," was sold for $1.5 million.

Wilde wrote the extra chapter to his classic, "The Picture of Dorian Gray," after publishers asked him to lengthen the novel and add interest and credence to the plot. The completed novel, which tells the story of a young man who sells his soul for eternal youth and beauty, was published to controversy in 1890.

2 suspects arrested in Afghan kidnapping

KABUL, Afghanistan - Police detained seven suspects for questioning in the kidnapping of three U.N. election workers in the Afghan capital, officials said Friday. But investigators appeared no closer to establishing whether Taliban-linked militants or criminals were responsible for the abductions.

Officials said no demands have been received for the release of the victims who were snatched from their marked U.N. vehicle by about five armed men midday Thursday.

The victims have been identified as a male Filipino diplomat Angelito Nayan, and two women - Shqipe Habibi of Kosovo and Annetta Flanigan from Northern Ireland.

An Interior Ministry spokesman said three of the seven people detained were armed men wearing military uniforms without belonging to any regular military or police unit.

Interrogation of the suspects had so far established no definitive link to the kidnapping, spokesman Latfullah Mashal said.

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