London was the scene of two ugly outbursts of violence last week. On Friday, a nail bomb went off at a gay pub in the Soho district, causing three deaths and sending two dozen others to hospital. It was the third bomb targeting a minority group in less than two weeks. Meanwhile, on Monday, one of Britain’s best-known TV personalities was shot dead as she stood on the step outside her home in west London. The two incidents were almost surely unrelated, but political extremists were suspected in both cases.
Police said the bombing of the Admiral Duncan pub was claimed by the same neo-fascist group that said it was responsible for an attack a week earlier that left seven injured in the heart of Londons Bangladeshi community. The
group, the White Wolves, also claimed responsibility for the April 17 nail bombing in the largely black area of Brixton, where 39 people were injured. Police arrested a man 50 km southwest of London on Saturday, after finding explosives in his home.
Television news reader Jill Dando, 37, had hosted Crimewatch UK, a popular BBC program in which unsolved crimes were graphically re-enacted and suspects described. She was murdered shortly before noon, apparently by a well-dressed man seen carrying a cellphone as he left the scene. Despite Dando’s crime-fighting connection, police noted she received a rambling note about two weeks earlier from someone with pro-Serbian sympathies.
Putting off a Palestinian state
Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat scored a diplomatic coup by retreating from a pledge to declare the West Bank and Gaza Strip an independent state on May 4, the target date for Palestinian statehood under the Oslo peace accord. The Palestine Liberation Organization, which he heads, put off a decision until at least June. Officials said they did not want to give campaign fodder to the right-wing government of Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, who is campaigning for reelection on May 17 against a strong challenge from Labour Party Leader Ehud Barak.
Arbour and the court
Prime Minister Jean Chrétien and Louise Arbour, the chief UN war crimes prosecutor, engaged in a delicate public dance over her rumoured candidacy as a Supreme Court justice. In Ottawa, Chrétien said the former Ontario justice would be an “excellent candidate” but “it is for her to decide.” Arbour, visiting Washington to confer on Balkan war crimes issues, said guardedly that she would make a decision on her future when it became necessary. U.S. officials, keen to see Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic indicted, were reportedly upset that she might leave before her fouryear UN term ends next year.
Indian vote set
Indian President K. R. Narayanan dissolved parliament and called an election after protracted efforts to form a new government ended in disarray. The nationalist government of A. B. Vajpayee fell on April 17, but opposition Congress party Leader Sonia Gandhi failed to put together another coalition in the splintered assembly. The vote will mark the third time that India’s 600 million voters have gone to the polls since 1996.
Beef ban battle
The European Union upheld its decadelong ban on imports of hormone-treated beef from the United States and Canada on health grounds, setting the stage for a new trade battle with Washington. The U.S. beef industry claims it has lost $366 million a year in sales and is demanding compensation.
Scientists have been puzzled by a startling increase in deformities among frogs throughout the United States. Many suspected the cause was stronger ultraviolet light due to the depletion of atmospheric ozone. Two teams of researchers, however, writing in the journal Science, reported that parasites that burrowed into the legs of immature frogs can cause multiple limbs to develop.
Nigeria back in
A meeting of Commonwealth foreign ministers in London decided to lift Nigeria’s three-year suspension from the organization. Nigeria was ousted from the 54-nation group in 1995 following the execution of nine dissidents. The reinstatement, which will take effect later this month, was granted after the former dictatorship held a presidential election.
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