Bomb kills Palestinian militia leader

TULKAREM, West Bank

A Palestinian militia leader who boasted of shooting Israelis was killed when a bomb exploded as he emerged from his West Bank hide-out and walked along a quiet street yesterday. Hours later and close by, Palestinian gunmen killed an Israeli and wounded another in a roadside ambush, security sources said.

No one claimed responsibility for either attack, which pointed to a renewed cycle of retaliatory violence that has marked the conflict in and around Tulkarem since the Palestinian uprising began nearly 16 months ago.

Yesterday”s violence further undermined U.S. truce efforts, and it was not clear whether U.S. mediator Anthony Zinni would return to the region this week as planned.

Palestinians accused Israel of planting the bomb that went off exactly as militia leader, Raed Karmi, 27, strode past on a residential street that bordered a cemetery. The bomb sprayed Karmi with shrapnel, leaving a cavity on the roadside and a pool of blood on the blacktop where Karmi died.

Without confirming or denying involvement, Israel issued a statement shortly after the explosion saying Karmi was responsible for the shooting deaths of nine Israelis.

Doctors pronounce Bush in good condition

WASHINGTON

President Bush”s fainting blamed by the White House on a pretzel should have no long-term consequences for his health, doctors say.

The medical experts say his good physical condition may have contributed to the incident. Bush”s physician, Dr. Richard Tubb, said the president began coughing while eating a pretzel on Sunday, stimulating a nerve that slowed his heart rate and caused him to lose consciousness briefly.

Following his physical last August, Bush was pronounced in outstanding health. He exercises vigorously and regularly, and some experts say his type of faint may be more likely in people in good shape because their heart rates and blood pressure already are low. A sudden drop in blood pressure can cause fainting by reducing blood flow to the brain.

The president was feeling better and back at work yesterday, beginning a two-day trip to the Midwest and Louisiana. “My mother always said, “When you”re eating pretzels, chew before you swallow,”” Bush said. “Always listen to your mother.”

For Bush, 55, the main consequences appear to be a scrape on his left cheek the size of a half dollar and a bruise on his lower lip from falling off a couch.

Anti-India militants arrested in Pakistan

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan

Pakistani police arrested hundreds more Islamic militants and sealed dozens of their offices yesterday in a crackdown on anti-India extremists as India refused to pull back troops from their tense border until militant operations are stopped.

Pakistan also said it would keep hundreds of thousands of troops along the frontier, prolonging a monthlong standoff between the two nuclear powers.

More than 1,500 extremists have been arrested since Saturday, when President Gen. Pervez Musharraf banned five militant organizations including two accused of terrorism in Indian-controlled Kashmir, said an interior ministry official speaking on condition of anonymity.

About 800 activists were arrested, with other arrests occurring in Sindh and the North West Frontier provinces, the official said yesterday.

Columbian rebels begin peace talks

SAN VICENTE DEL CAGUAN, Colombia

Colombia”s government and main leftist rebel group agreed yesterday to resume peace talks, diplomats and a U.N. envoy said, overcoming an impasse that threatened to plunge the country into a new round of fighting.

France”s Ambassador to Colombia, Daniel Parfait, read a statement saying that the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or FARC, had dropped its objections to returning to peace talks that were paralyzed since October.

He said President Andres Pastrana had signed off on the agreement, reached with the help of a U.N. envoy, Catholic Church delegates, and ambassadors from 10 countries.

The government had earlier set a deadline of 9:30 p.m. (EST) deadline for rebels to agree to a resume the peace process or troops would move to retake their safe haven in southern Colombia.

Head injuries linked to risk of depression

CHICAGO

Concussions and other head injuries in early adulthood may significantly raise the risk of depression decades later, a study of World War II veterans found.

The study has disturbing implications for football and hockey players, motorcyclists and others who have taken blows to the head.

Other research has shown that head trauma patients may be prone to depression shortly after suffering their injuries. But the new findings suggest that the risk persists even 50 years later.

The study involved 1,718 veterans hospitalized for various ailments during the war and questioned 50 years later. About 11 percent who had had head injuries said they currently had major depression, compared with 8.5 percent of those hospitalized during the war for other reasons.

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