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World in brief

Attacks expected, Iraq says

By wire services
Published September 22, 2005

UNITED NATIONS - Iraq expects insurgents to step up attempts to disrupt next month's constitutional referendum and thinks the next three months are critical for the country's future as a democratic nation, Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari said Wednesday.

In a speech to the U.N. Security Council, Zebari said the international community has a "moral obligation" to help Iraq win the battle against foreign extremists and "thugs" from Saddam Hussein's ousted regime because the country is fighting "to protect the freedoms of the rest of the civilized world."

He called on the United Nations to take "a more vocal and more visible role in Iraq" during next month's constitutional referendum and general elections scheduled on Dec. 15. He urged donors to provide the $107-million required for the elections and to accelerate reconstruction funding to improve basic services to the Iraqi people. And he said the U.S.-led multinational force must remain in Iraq until Iraqi security and military forces are trained and able to take over.

Meanwhile in Basra, hundreds of Iraqi civilians and policemen, some waving pistols and AK-47s, rallied to denounce "British aggression" in the rescue of two British soldiers.

The Basra governor threatened to end all cooperation with British forces unless Prime Minister Tony Blair's government apologizes for the deadly clash with Iraqi police. Britain defended the raid.

Pilots fake emergency to catch soccer match

LIMA, Peru - Pilots of a chartered jet carrying 289 Gambian soccer fans faked the need for an emergency landing in Peru so passengers could watch their nation's team play a key match, officials said Wednesday.

The plane, claiming to be low on fuel, landed Tuesday in Peru's northern coast city of Piura, where Gambia played Qatar in the FIFA Under-17 World Championships later that night.

Emergency crews were scrambled ahead of the Lockhead L1011 Tri-Star's unscheduled landing. It was to have landed in the capital, Lima.

The fans were allowed to watch the soccer game in Piura, which Gambia won 3-1. The fans apparently would have been late or missed the game if the flight had first gone to its scheduled destination of Lima, 550 miles to the south.

Health minister warns of bird flu epidemic

JAKARTA, Indonesia - Indonesia could be on the brink of a bird flu epidemic if the virus continues to accelerate, the country's health minister warned Wednesday as the number of suspected cases in the capital continued to mount.

Siti Fadillah Supari's remarks came as a pair of young girls with bird flu symptoms died in Jakarta hospitals and two days after the government declared it was taking "extraordinary" measures to stem the spread of the virus, including the mandatory hospitalization of anyone with suspicious symptoms.

Since early last year, bird flu has killed at least 63 people in Vietnam, Thailand, Cambodia and Indonesia, and has infected an increasing number of bird species in 12 countries across Asia.

Smooching in temple costs couple 1,000 rupees

NEW DELHI - India may be the land of the Kamasutra, the ancient treatise on sex, but public displays of affection remain strictly taboo in the country's hinterlands, as an Israeli couple found out.

They were fined 500 Indian rupees ($11) each for embracing and kissing after getting married in a traditional Hindu ceremony in the northwestern Indian town Pushkar, the Asian Age newspaper reported Wednesday.

The newspaper said priests at Pushkar's Brahma temple were so incensed when the couple smooched as hymns were still being chanted that they filed a police complaint.

A court in Pushkar then charged them with indecency and ordered them to pay the fine or face 10 days in prison, the newspaper reported. The couple decided to pay.

[Last modified September 22, 2005, 01:04:14]

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