RAMALLAH, West Bank

Arafat seeks Paris medical treatment

An ailing Yasser Arafat — too weak to stand, unable to
hold down food and spending most of yesterday sleeping —
agreed to leave his battered West Bank compound for the first time
in more than two years and fly to Paris for urgent medical
treatment.

The 75-year-old Palestinian leader’s planned departure
today, a decade after he arrived in the West Bank with the promise
of statehood, could mark the end of an era. Arafat, who hoarded
power and declined to groom a successor, leaves behind a people in
disarray.

Blood tests revealed he had a low platelet count, though it was
unclear what caused the ailment, his doctors said, ruling out
leukemia. In deference to his deteriorating condition, Israel
lifted its travel ban on Arafat, allowing him to leave his battered
headquarters compound in Ramallah for the first time since 2002 and
to return if he recovers.

Arafat will be moved to the Jordanian capital of Amman early
today, then continue on to Paris for medical treatment, said Munnib
al-Masri, an Arafat aide. Jordan sent two helicopters to pick up
Arafat.

 

PATTANI, Thailand

Bar bombed in Thailand’s Muslim region

Fresh violence erupted yesterday with the bombing of a bar in
Thailand’s mostly Muslim south, while villagers held a mass
burial for some of the 78 protesters who suffocated while in army
custody this week.

The bomb exploded yesterday evening at a bar in the town of
Sungai Kolok in Narathiwat province, on the border with Malaysia,
killing at least two people and wounding 21 others, police said. No
one claimed responsibility for the bombing and police named no
suspects.

Also, officials in Narathiwat’s provincial capital defused
a 22-pound time bomb minutes before it was set to explode at a food
stall where residents gather to give offerings to Buddhist
monks.

Narathiwat is one of three southern Thai provinces hit by
violence attributed to Islamic separatists. The violence has killed
more than 400 people since January.

The three provinces have Muslim majorities, while Thailand
overall is about 90 percent Buddhist. Southern Muslims have long
complained of discrimination by the central government.

 

LOS ANGELES

DreamWorks public stock offering raises $0.8B

DreamWorks Animation Inc., the film studio behind
“Shrek” and “Shark Tales,” went public
yesterday on Wall Street, and its new stock immediately shot up 36
percent.

The stock had been priced at $28 a share but opened at $38 on
the New York Stock Exchange.

The company is being spun off by its privately held parent,
DreamWorks SKG, formed 10 years ago by Jeffrey Katzenberg, Steven
Spielberg and David Geffen.

At its offering price, DreamWorks will raise $812 million from
the 29 million shares made available. After the initial public
offering, Katzenberg and Geffen will have 93 percent voting control
of the company, leaving individual investors with almost no
voice.

 

KABUL, Afghanistan

Election workers kidnapped in Afghanistan

Armed men in military uniforms stopped a U.N. vehicle in Kabul
yesterday, beating the driver and abducting three foreigners in
Afghanistan to help oversee landmark presidential elections. The
daylight kidnapping followed warnings that Taliban militants could
target foreigners in an echo of the brutal insurgency roiling Iraq.
It came less than a week after a suicide attack killed an American
translator in Kabul.

Two of the kidnap victims were women: one with joint
British-Irish nationality, and another from Kosovo. The third was a
male diplomat from the Philippines. All work for
Afghanistan’s U.N.-sponsored election body.

A man claiming to speak for a Taliban splinter group, Jamiat
Jaish-al Muslimeen, said it was responsible. The veracity of the
claim could not be verified.

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