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Series of bombs kills 2 in Thailand

Mon., April 4, 2005

Bangkok, Thailand A series of bomb blasts Sunday hit a Western-owned department store and a regional airport, killing at least two people and wounding dozens in southern Thailand, officials said.

The three explosions occurred in Songkhla, a province just north of where an Islamic insurgency has been active since early last year. The bombings raised the possibility that the militants could be expanding their field of operations.

Thai media said as many as five people had died, including three at Carrefour, part of a French-owned department store chain.

A third bomb was detonated by a hotel in the city of Songkhla, on the coast of the Gulf of Thailand. No casualties were reported there.

Leaders of opposition demand new election

Harare, Zimbabwe Zimbabwe’s embattled opposition on Sunday demanded new parliamentary elections under a different constitution, saying voting can never be free and fair under the current legislative framework.

President Robert Mugabe’s party scored an overwhelming win in a poll Thursday condemned by all but his closest African neighbors as flawed.

Opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai maintained Sunday that his Movement for Democratic Change won 94 of Parliament’s 120 elected seats, not the 41 announced by electoral officials.

Opposition leaders and rights groups said violence, intimidation and repressive laws skewed the election in Mugabe’s favor.

Exiled Kyrgyz chief to step down today

Moscow Kyrgyz President Askar Akayev said he will formally step down today, a move that would help pave the way for elections and solidify order in his impoverished Central Asian country less than two weeks after he was forced to flee to Russia amid mass protests.

Akayev announced his plans to resign after a meeting Sunday in Moscow with representatives of Kyrgyzstan’s interim leadership.

Akayev and the delegation’s leader, Omurbek Tekebayev, speaker of the Kyrgyz parliament and one of Akayev’s opponents, said the resignation would be a significant step toward restoring stability in the former Soviet republic.

Akayev led Kyrgyzstan since 1990 before it gained independence during the collapse of the Soviet Union.

Sudan officials reject U.N. atrocity resolution

Khartoum, Sudan The Sudanese government on Sunday rejected a U.N. Security Council resolution that empowers the International Criminal Court to prosecute alleged perpetrators of atrocities in the Darfur conflict.

President Omar el-Bashir denoun- ced Friday’s action. But Sunday’s announcement was the first time the government gave its official stance since the U.N. resolution passed by 11-0 with four abstentions.

The western Sudanese region of Darfur has been the scene of what the United Nations has called the world’s worst humanitarian crisis.

An estimated 180,000 people have died amid the upheaval and about 2 million others have remained displaced since the conflict began in February 2003.


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