Around The World

Four killed when car bomb explodes outside Peru hotel

LIMA - A car bomb exploded in front of a hotel in the Miraflores district of Lima today, killing four people and wounding at least 15 others, authorities and witnesses said.

The bomb detonated about 4:30 a.m. (1:30 a.m. PDT) at the Hotel Maria Angola.

Miraflores Mayor Alberto Andrade said police suspect that Maoist Shining Path guerrillas, who have been waging war on the government since 1980, carried out the attack.

Zaire's Ebola toll hits 108, but virus may be weakening

GENEVA - The death toll from the Ebola virus outbreak in Zaire has risen to 108, the World Health Organization reported today.

The new figure includes the death of an Italian nun who cared for Ebola patients in Kikwit Hospital as well as six previously undocumented deaths that date to January, the U.N. health agency said.

Meanwhile, there were indications that the deadly virus may get weaker as it passes down the chain of infection, WHO spokesman Valery Abramov said. Researchers were studying a household of 12 people in Kikwit where seven members died, and five survivors showed no signs of infection. Doctors believe the disease exists naturally in the area, frequently hitting isolated households, then dying away.

Czech president rejects bid to impose curbs on smoking

PRAGUE, Czech Republic - President Vaclav Havel, a heavy smoker, has rejected legislation that would sharply curb smoking in public places.

Havel sent the law back to legislators yesterday, citing lack of time for manufacturers to comply with new labeling requirements. The law, adopted by parliament last month, would have restricted smoking in restaurants and bars to special sections, and banned smoking during meetings, symposiums and news conferences.

Havel had said earlier he did not object to the law's goal of protecting Czechs from the effects of smoking.

Experts estimate 30 percent of Czech women and 48 percent of Czech men smoke. Studies show most start before the age of 16.

China arrests more activists before anniversary of protest

BEIJING - Police have arrested a labor activist and a scientist, raising to 14 the number of dissidents detained in the past week as the anniversary of the 1989 crackdown on pro-democracy activists approaches.

Most of those arrested had petitioned the government recently for greater tolerance and for the release of activists still imprisoned over the Tiananmen Square protest.

Sha Yuguang, a 45-year-old veteran labor and human-rights activist, was taken from his home last night. Bao Zunxin, a former social researcher, was taken in for questioning but released three hours later, Human Rights in China reported today.

Friends said Jiang Qisheng, who signed both petitions, was taken by police from his home in Beijing yesterday, as was Gou Qinghui, the wife of an arrested Christian activist. Gou was released after about two hours yesterday, arrested again today and released after about four hours, friends said.

Shalikashvili seeks to have Nazi dad reburied in Georgia

GURDZHAANI, Georgia - Gen. John Shalikashvili, the chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff, has asked to have his father, a veteran of an elite Nazi combat unit, reburied in Georgia.

Word of Shalikashvili's request came from Georgian leader Eduard Shevardnadze.

Born in Georgia but raised in Poland, Shalikashvili's father, Dmitri, joined the Georgian Legion in 1943, serving with other Georgian expatriates under the command of Hitler's brutal Waffen SS.

Shalikashvili arrived in Georgia on Sunday night and yesterday traveled with his brother Othar to their father's hometown, Gurdzhaani.

S. Korean police halt protest against U.S. soldiers' crimes

SEOUL, South Korea - About 600 students protesting crimes by American soldiers tried to march to a U.S. government office in the southern city of Kwangju today, but were stopped by police firing tear gas.

The protesters said the 1965 treaty on the status of the 37,000 U.S. troops here protects them from punishment.

Last Friday, South Korean police seized 12 U.S. soldiers accused of beating a Korean man in a drunken brawl at a Seoul subway station. Police turned the soldiers over to U.S. authorities.

- Seattle Times news services