Violence continues in Australian city

Sydney, Australia Violence spilled into a second night Monday as scores of youths drove through predominantly white suburbs of Sydney, smashing windows of cars, homes and stores and raising fears of spreading racial unrest.

Prime Minister John Howard called the violence “sickening,” but denied it was rooted in racism. Arab community leaders said the unrest would heighten racial tensions as cell phone text messages warned of retribution by the Arab community and attacks by neo-Nazi groups.

About 5,000 white men targeted people believed to be of Arab or Middle Eastern descent on Cronulla Beach on Sunday after rumors spread that Lebanese youths assaulted two lifeguards earlier this month.

Police fought back with batons and pepper spray. Young men of Arab descent struck back in several Sydney suburbs Sunday, fighting with police for hours, police said. They said 31 people were injured, including a white man who was allegedly stabbed in the back, and 16 arrested.

Carloads of youths tore through the suburbs Monday night, attacking vehicles and throwing bottles through windows. While only one person was reported injured and six arrested, there appeared to be more damage to cars and stores than on Sunday.

Bombing in Greece injures three

Athens, Greece A bomb targeting Greece’s National Economy Ministry shattered windows and damaged cars in Athens’ main square early Monday, injuring three people, police said.

Authorities said the bomb, detonated by a timer, was apparently hidden in a container on the back of a stolen motorcycle at the central Syntagma Square.

There was no claim of responsibility, but the blast – the second targeting a ministry this year – raised fears of renewed violence by far-left militant groups that plagued Greece in the 1980s and part of the ‘90s.

It was reported that the nearby National Economy Ministry – which suffered limited damage – had been the intended target.

Monday’s bombing coincided with labor protests against Greece’s conservative government and the trial of 15 members of a deadly terrorist group, November 17, which is blamed for 23 killings and dozens of bombings between 1975 and 2000.

Strong earthquake felt in Afghanistan, Pakistan

Kabul, Afghanistan A strong earthquake struck remote northeastern Afghanistan and shook neighboring Pakistan, the scene of a devastating quake two months ago. There were no immediate reports of damage or injuries.

The U.S. Geological Survey said the magnitude-6.7 quake was centered in the remote Hindu Kush region of northeastern Afghanistan. It struck shortly before 3 a.m. local time in Pakistan, shortly before 2:30 a.m. in Afghanistan.

The quake – centered about 65 miles southeast of Faizabad in the Hindu Kush mountains – was felt more than 200 miles away in Islamabad, Pakistan, and in Kabul, where the shaking lasted several seconds and people rushed into the streets.

The sparsely populated area is about 200 miles from the center of the Oct. 8 quake that killed about 87,000 people in northwestern Pakistan and Indian Kashmir. Salim Akhtar, an official at the Peshawar earthquake center in Pakistan, said he did not consider it an aftershock of the October quake.

Pakistani television stations also reported landslides near the town of Bagh in Pakistani Kashmir, one of the areas worst hit by the October quake.


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