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World in brief: Economic woes spark looting, riots

Mon., April 7, 2008, midnight

Thousands of demonstrators angry about rising prices and stagnant salaries torched buildings, looted shops and hurled bricks at police who responded with tear gas Sunday in an industrial town as Egyptians staged a nationwide strike.

About 150 people were arrested and 80 were wounded in the gritty Nile Delta town of Mahalla el-Kobra, where riots broke out among residents and disgruntled workers at the largest textile factory in Egypt.

Protesters stormed city hall, burned tires in the streets, smashed chairs through shop windows and ran off with computers. At least two schools were set ablaze and banks were vandalized, police said.

Nearly 100 others were arrested elsewhere across Egypt, officials said, as thousands skipped work and school and hundreds protested over the rising cost of food and deteriorating working conditions.

Sunday’s strike was the first major attempt by opposition groups to turn the past year’s labor unrest into a wider political protest against the government of President Hosni Mubarak.

COLOMBO, Sri Lanka

Suicide bomber kills 14 at marathon

A suicide bomber killed 14 people at an opening ceremony for a marathon Sunday, including a government minister who was nearing the starting line with a flag and a former Olympian. More than 90 others were wounded in the attack.

Officials blamed the bombing on the Tamil Tigers, rebels who have fought since 1983 for an independent homeland for the ethnic minority Tamils, marginalized for decades by successive governments run by majority ethnic Sinhalese.

The rebel group routinely denies attacks on civilians, and their spokesman could not be reached for comment.

Scores of runners and onlookers had gathered at the starting line of the marathon in Weliweriya as part of the national celebration of the upcoming Sinhalese New Year.

PODGORICA, Montenegro

Incumbent wins presidential race

Incumbent Filip Vujanovic claimed victory Sunday in Montenegro’s first presidential elections since the tiny Balkan nation split from Serbia.

Huge fireworks lit the sky over the capital, and Vujanovic’s supporters honked car horns and waved Montenegro’s red flags with a golden eagle in downtown Podgorica after the results from independent observers were announced over state television.

The Center for Monitoring said Vujanovic won 51.4 percent of the vote, pro-Serb challenger Andrija Mandic had 20.4 percent while liberal candidate Nebojsa Medojevic had 15.7 percent for third place. The group cited the final vote count by its own monitors at polling stations.

Official results are expected today.

Medojevic conceded defeat, with his party Movement for Change citing the same figures.

Vujanovic, of the ruling Democratic Party of Socialists – one of the staunchest advocates of Montenegro’s split from Serbia two years ago – said his victory shows that “a majority of Montenegrins support our policies.”

JERUSALEM

Party in works for 60th anniversary

Israel on Sunday rolled out its plans for this year’s 60th anniversary celebrations, promising concerts, Holocaust remembrance events and a workshop promoting Arab-Israeli coexistence.

Cabinet minister Ruhama Avraham Balila said some of the $28 million budget would go to projects that would last far beyond this year’s Independence Day celebrations, including a 750-mile trans-Israel bicycle trail, a footpath circling the Sea of Galilee and the renovation of war memorials around the country.

Some of the celebrations have already begun, while others run through September.


 

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