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World in brief

Compiled from Times wires
© St. Petersburg Times
published December 4, 2002

95-year-old Palestinian is killed by soldiers

JERUSALEM -- A 95-year-old Palestinian woman returning to her village after buying sweets and nuts for her family's Ramadan festivities was killed Tuesday by Israeli soldiers who smashed windows of the minivan in which she was sitting and then fired into the vehicle, according to family members.

Fatima Hassan Abeida, who relatives said was born in 1907, is believed to be the oldest Palestinian victim of the more than two-year-long uprising against Israeli occupation in the West Bank and Gaza Strip.

Abeida had taken a taxi from the West Bank city of Ramallah, climbed over a pile of dirt at a roadblock erected by the Israeli military and boarded one of the minivans that ferry travelers to her village, Atara, when "Israeli soldiers came and destroyed the windows of the van with the butt of their guns, then sprayed the minibus with bullets," said her grandson Izzat Ahmad, 28.

The army is investigating. Israeli officials said the minivan was on a road that the military had declared off-limits to Palestinians. Soldiers ordered the vehicle to stop, and when it failed to comply, shot their guns into the air. The soldiers then fired a shot in the car.

China wins right to hold Expo in 2010

SHANGHAI, China -- China won the right Tuesday to host the World Exposition in 2010, the first time a developing country will do so since the fair began 151 years ago in London.

The victory is a feather in the cap of the world's most populous country, which recently realized its dream to host the 2008 Olympics. It also confirms the growing influences of the bidding city, Shanghai, China's economic powerhouse.

Expos are grand opportunities for the world to showcase the latest technological advancements. Some of the most notable inventions of modern life, from the telephone to television, asbestos to the steam engine made their debuts at world fairs.

For the 2010 fair, Shanghai plans to clean up an industrial stretch of the Hunagpu River and transform it into a sprawling green space of exhibition halls.

Russia sends Chechen refugees back home

VLADIKAVKAZ, Russia -- The Russian government dismantled a tent camp Tuesday that housed 1,500 Chechen refugees, ignoring appeals from the U.N. refugee agency not to send them home.

Most of the Chechens returned to their war-torn republic after the tents were torn down in the Iman refugee camp in Ingushetia, a Russian republic bordering Chechnya.

The Moscow government insists the refugees are returning home voluntarily. But Russia's leading human rights group, Memorial, said authorities had pressured the refugees to leave by threatening to cut electricity and gas supplies to the camp.

The United Nations estimates that about 20,000 refugees are living in tent camps in Ingushetia, and another 110,000 are living with relatives or squatting there.

Remains may be U.S. Vietnam casualty from '54

EAST BRUNSWICK, N.J. -- An American task force searching in Laos may have found the remains of the first U.S. casualty of the war in Vietnam, a spokesman for the group says.

Three people, including two Americans, died in May 1954 when their plane was shot down during the battle of Dien Bien Phu, which was waged between the Vietnamese and the French seven years before the United States officially entered the Vietnam War.

Killed were the pilot, Capt. James B. McGovern Jr.; copilot Wallace Buford; and an unidentified French flight engineer. The three were on a CIA mission to airdrop artillery to French troops.

The Joint Task Force-Full Accounting, an arm of the Defense Department, believes a skeleton found in a field Saturday in the village of Ban Sot is that of one of the victims, said task force spokesman Jerry O'Hara.

The skeleton will be returned to the task force base in Hawaii for identification.

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