The world at a glance . . . International


Alexandria, Egypt

Internet outage hits millions: Millions of Internet users across the Middle East and Asia were left without Web access last week, after several undersea cables broke. Two of the cables were cut, possibly by ship anchors, just off the coast of Egypt. A third, off the coast of the United Arab Emirates, was cut in two spots the next day. Most service was restored within a day thanks to rerouting, although Internet access was expected to remain slow for days. The International Cable Protection Committee, an association of cable operators, said it was investigating the cause of the cuts, but believed sabotage was unlikely. Undersea cables carry about 95 percent of the world’s international telephone and Internet traffic.

N’Djamena, Chad

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Rebels attack capital: Chadian troops this week beat back a rebel attack that sent some 20,000 people fleeing from the capital, N’Djamena. Prime Minister Nourredine Delwa Kassire Coumakoye accused neighboring Sudan of being behind the attack, saying the rebels had come from bases there—a charge Sudan denied. France, which has some 1,900 troops stationed in its former colony, offered to lend support to Chadian troops, and the U.N. Security Council approved such a contingency. But Coumakoye said the rebels had already been routed. “They don’t exist anymore,” he said. “They have all been decimated.” A contingent of 3,700 E.U. peacekeepers, approved last month well before the rebel attack, will deploy next week to protect Sudanese refugees in Chad who have fled a separate conflict in Darfur.

Dimona, Israel

Suicide bombings resume: Two Palestinian suicide bombers struck a shopping district in southern Israel this week, killing one person and injuring more than 20. It was the first suicide attack in Israel in more than a year. The al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades, a militant offshoot of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas’ Fatah party, claimed responsibility for the bombing. Israeli authorities said they suspected that the terrorists got into Israel by way of Egypt. Two weeks ago, Palestinian militants breached the border wall between Gaza and Egypt and have been easily crossing into Egypt, which has a long border with Israel that is less heavily guarded than Israel’s border with Gaza. Hamas also claimed responsibility for the suicide attack, saying the bombers entered Israel from the West Bank.


Gruesome new tactic: Two mentally disabled women strapped with explosives killed at least 68 people this week at a crowded outdoor pet market, in the worst attack in Baghdad since the U.S. military surge began, last spring. Authorities said the women might not have known they were to become suicide bombers, as their explosive belts were detonated by remote control. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said that exploiting the mentally disabled showed the “absolute bankruptcy and brutality of the enemy of the people of Iraq.” The bombings came after a downward trend in violence against civilians. Reports by Iraq Body Count showed 767 deaths for January, compared with 904 in December and 1,100 in November.


Poisoned dumplings from China: At least 10 people in Japan got sick this week after eating pork dumplings laced with pesticide. The dumplings were imported from China, and initially Japanese officials feared they had another case of tainted Chinese food. All products from the Chinese factory that made the dumplings were recalled, panicking some 4,000 people who had already eaten them. But health officials now say the contamination probably occurred after the dumplings left the factory and may have been deliberate. “The circumstantial evidence suggests substantial possibility of criminality,” said Health Minister Yoichi Masuzoe.

Islamabad, Pakistan

Bhutto’s husband to campaign: The party of Benazir Bhutto unveiled the slain opposition leader’s will this week to prove that she intended her husband to succeed her. The Pakistan People’s Party named Bhutto’s husband, Asif Ali Zardari, and son, Bilawal Bhutto, as co-chairs shortly after Bhutto was assassinated in December on the eve of national elections. Since then, though, some have questioned whether Bhutto had really meant for Zardari, who was once accused of murdering Bhutto’s brother, to campaign in her place. “I would like my husband Asif Ali Zardari to lead you in this interim period, until you and he decide what is best,” the will states. “I say this because he is a man of courage and honor.” The election was postponed until Feb. 18 to allow for a period of national mourning.

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