The interim Palestinian leader, Mahmoud Abbas, escaped unharmed after militants from his Fatah movement opened fire near him in a tent crowded with mourners for the late president Yasser Arafat -- a warning that the period leading to the Jan. 9 election of an Arafat successor could be chaotic and violent. \nAn Abbas bodyguard and a security officer were killed and six people were wounded in Sundays' shooting in Gaza City. The first shots triggered a chaotic firefight of several minutes with security guards -- though it appears from the casualty count that most fired in the air, rather than taking aim. \nSome 30 or 40 gunmen were involved, none of the masked, but police declined to say yesterday whether arrests had been made. The Al Aqsa Martyrs' Brigades, a violent group with ties to Fatah, denied it sent the gunmen, and the Hamas and Islamic Jihad groups were not considered suspects. \nAbbas, widely known as Abu Mazen, played down the incident, saying it was not an assassination attempt. \nHowever, some of the gunmen had chanted anti-Abbas slogans. \nSufian Abu Zaydeh, a Palestinian Authority official in Gaza, said he stood near Abbas when the shooting erupted. The gunmen "are people who don't accept Abu Mazen ... don't accept anyone," Abu Zaydeh told Israel Army Radio, but declined to say whether he recognized the armed men. \nThe temporary Palestinian leadership, headed by Abbas, has been trying to send a message of unity since Arafat's death last Thursday. \nThe death of Arafat has opened up what many leaders believe is a crucial opportunity to revive the peace process in the Middle East and lay the groundwork for Israel and a Palestinian state to live side by side without bloodshed. \nIn a policy shift, an Israeli official indicated that the Jewish state was reassessing its policy on its plan to pull troops and 8,800 Jewish settlers out of the Gaza Strip and four West Bank settlements. \nForeign Ministry spokesman Mark Regev said Israel would be willing to coordinate a planned withdrawal from Gaza if the Palestinian Authority cracks down on militant groups. \nIsraeli and Palestinian officials alike have expressed fears that an evacuation from Gaza without coordination would bring chaos to the Gaza Strip, where militant groups have been vying for control in recent months. \nMeanwhile, Abbas was due to hold separate meetings yesterday with representatives from the sprawling Palestinian security services and 13 main factions, officials said, including Hamas, Islamic Jihad, and the Fatah movement.
FRENCH AID: Paris has sent a navy ship and aircraft from Reunion Island with some pollution control equipment, but rough seas are spreading the oil spill The operator of a Japanese bulk carrier which ran aground off Mauritius in the Indian Ocean yesterday apologized for a major oil spill, which officials and environmentalists say is creating an ecological disaster, as police prepared to board the ship. The MV Wakashio, operated by Mitsui OSK Lines, struck the reef on Mauritius’ southeast coast on July 25. “We apologize profusely and deeply for the great trouble we have caused,” Mitsui OSK Lines executive vice president Akihiko Ono said at a news conference in Tokyo. The company would “do everything in their power to resolve the issue,” he said. At least 1,000 tonnes of
Three Micronesian sailors stranded on a remote Pacific island have been found alive and well after a rescue team spotted their giant SOS message written into the sand on a beach. Australian and US military aircraft found the three men on tiny Pikelot island, nearly 200km west of where they had set off. Rescuers said that the men were “in good condition” with no significant injuries. The men had been missing for three days after their 7m skiff ran out of fuel and strayed off course. Authorities in the US territory of Guam raised the alarm on Saturday after the men failed to complete
A cat that went missing on a family holiday on the shores of Loch Lomond, Scotland, has been identified 12 years later. Tortoiseshell-and-white Georgie spent October half term in 2008 with her owners at the Rowardennan campsite, but vanished as they were due to return home to Greater Manchester, England. After a search of the site the Davies family departed without Georgie, hoping the three-year-old microchipped feline would be located by someone. Over the intervening 12 years, she remained close to the Queen Elizabeth Forest Park site, being fed and cared for by campsite staff and holidaymakers. After the COVID-19 pandemic hit and lockdown
LIFELONG LOSS: Jiro Hamasumi, who was not quite born when an atomic bomb hit Hiroshima, lost his father and other relatives, but said he thinks about his father daily As Japan marks 75 years since the devastating attacks on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, the last generation of nuclear bomb survivors is working to ensure their message lives on after them. The “hibakusha” — literally “person affected by the bomb” — have for decades been a powerful voice calling for the abolition of nuclear weapons. There are an estimated 136,700 left, many of whom were infants or soon to be born at the time of the attacks. The average age of a survivor now is a little over 83, according to the Japanese Ministry of Health, lending an urgency as they share their testimonies