BEIRUT, Lebanon -- Lebanon's defense minister declared victory yesterday over the Fatah Islam militant group, saying it had been crushed after a monthlong military assault on its stronghold in a northern refugee camp and only mopping up remained. A Muslim cleric who has been acting as a mediator said later that Fatah Islam agreed to stop firing, and calm descended over the Nahr el-Bared camp outside the port of Tripoli. The battle, Lebanon's worst internal violence since the 1975-1990 civil war, killed 76 soldiers, at least 60 militants and more than 20 civilians. It came amid a fierce political power struggle between the Western-backed government and an opposition led by the militant Hezbollah.
WHO urges action on drug-resistant TB
LONDON --More than 130,000 lives could be saved if the world implements a two-year strategy to stop the growing problem of drug-resistant tuberculosis, the World Health Organization and partners said yesterday. Officials are concerned that the current epidemic of curable TB might evolve into a drug-resistant variety immune to existing medicines. The new plan from the WHO and the Stop TB Partnership outlines actions they say are needed to slow the spread of multidrug-resistant TB and extensively drug-resistant TB, or XDR-TB. Drug-resistant TB is primarily a problem in Asia, Africa and eastern Europe.
Ex-Mexican governor arrested for 2nd time
MEXICO CITY --A former Mexican governor freed after six years behind bars was immediately re-arrested yesterday on a U.S. extradition request in which he is accused of helping smuggle 200 tons of cocaine into the United States, federal prosecutors said. It was the latest chapter in the saga of Mario Villanueva, the former governor of the Caribbean state of Quintana Roo. Villanueva went into hiding in 1999 two weeks before the end of his six-year term and was hunted for two years until he was captured in Cancun, the state's largest city.
Zimbabwe opposition leader voices hope
LONDON --Runaway inflation and the Zimbabwean currency's largest decline in memory will increase pressure on President Robert G. Mugabe to allow free and fair elections, the main opposition leader said yesterday. Morgan Tsvangirai, the leader of one of the main opposition factions, said Mugabe needs to consider elections as a way out of Zimbabwe's economic crisis. Tsvangirai spoke after making his first public appearance outside Zimbabwe with the leader of a rival Movement for Democratic Change faction, Arthur Mutambara, at a news conference in London. Zimbabwe's opposition leaders are on a Western European tour aimed at building international support and showing that the opposition is united after months of infighting.
Volunteers sought for mock Mars trip
PARIS --The European Space Agency is looking for 12 volunteers with planetary vision who want to be on the cutting edge and don't get bored easily. They will make a simulated mission to Mars that will last up to 520 days in "extreme isolation and confinement." Despite the rigorous conditions, more than 2,000 applications have been received in two days, project manager Jennifer Ngo-Anh said yesterday. Candidates must be citizens of one of 15 European countries or Canada, be highly motivated and speak English and Russian, among other requirements. Unlike the adventurous spirits attracted to the desert island prospects of reality TV, only the "serious" need apply for this simulated interplanetary voyage, the space agency said. The payoff is likely less glamorous, too. Remuneration is "in line with international standards" for clinical studies, is all it would say.
From wire reports