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News briefs

German Tourists Wounded in Egypt

The Washington Post

CAIRO, Egypt

Islamic extremists fired with automatic weapons Thursday on a busload of German tourists in southern Egypt, injuring seven people and raising the stakes in an increasingly audacious and violent challenge to the government.

Five Germans were wounded, one seriously, in the assault, which occurred as the bus with 18 passengers passed through Qena, 300 miles south of Cairo, on its way from Luxor to the Red Sea, a German Embassy spokesman said. Also injured by the four gunmen, one of whom was captured, were the Egyptian bus driver and a passerby, according to the Egyptian Interior Ministry.

The mid-morning attack came three weeks after a similar ambush that left one British tourist dead. Together, they mark an ominous new development in a six-month crescendo of extremist Islamic violence: a move by the militants to bring down the government by crippling tourism, its main source of foreign income.

The militants' campaign, which has killed more than 70 people this year, is presenting President Hosni Mubarak with his most serious political test since assuming power 11 years ago, Egyptians say.

Government officials, deeply concerned about the lucrative tourist industry, which last year brought in $3 billion, have pledged to respond by increasing security, including new helicopter patrols over Egypt's famed Pharaonic monuments in the Upper Egyptian towns of Luxor and Aswan.

They have also stressed that the violence is the work of "a biased minority" in a country that for the most part remains abundantly friendly to the 3 million to 4 million foreigners that visit each year.

Nevertheless, in the first 10 days after the Oct. 21 slaying of the British tourist in Dairut, 38 chartered flights were canceled, according to Tourism Minister Fouad Sultan. That incident also spurred the U.S., British and Australian embassies to warn their nationals to avoid traveling to certain areas in Upper Egypt where Islamic militants have been active, such as Dairut, which is halfway between Cairo and the site of Thursday's attack.

GOP Senators Seek Probe Of Iran-Contra Case

The Washington Post

WASHINGTON

A majority of the Republicans on the Senate Judiciary Committee have formally asked for appointment of an independent counsel to investigate whether independent counsel Lawrence E. Walsh's recent handling of the Iran-Contra probe involved improper political considerations.

Four of the committee's six GOP senators asked Attorney General William P. Barr on Tuesday to initiate an independent investigation specifically of Walsh's actions in securing an Oct. 30 indictment of former Secretary of Defense Caspar W. Weinberger.

Barr, who has expressed his dislike for the independent counsel law, has until Dec. 10 to respond. The law itself expires Dec. 15; efforts to renew it were killed in September by the threat of a Republican filibuster in the Senate.

GOP Sens. Alan K. Simpson (Wyo.), Strom Thurmond (S.C.), Hank Brown (Colo.) and Charles E. Grassley (Iowa) wrote Barr that they wanted an investigation to determine "whether there were any illegal, improper, or unethical activities" by Walsh's office in bringing the new Weinberger indictment four days before the presidential election.

"Among other concerns, we have questions whether or not improper political considerations went into the timing of the indictment, and whether improper disclosure of the indictment was made to the Clinton-Gore campaign," the letter said.

The indictment accused Weinberger of lying to Congress in 1987 when questioned about the Iran-Contra affair and included the text of a Jan. 7, 1986, note by Weinberger that contradicted President Bush's statements about his knowledge of arms-for-hostages dealings with Iran. The indictment replaced an earlier charge of obstructing Congress that Weinberger's lawyers had criticized as too wordy and redolent of a conspiracy case.

Weather

Tumbling Temperatures

By Marek Zebrowski
staff meteorologist

A very intense low pressure system moving rapidly from the Mid-West towards northern Canada will be responsible for a very dramatic weather change this weekend. Warm and moisture-laden air, accompanied by southerly gales early Friday will be replaced by a bone-chilling arctic express roaring in on fierce northwesterly winds by late Friday afternoon. This cold blast will persist through the weekend due to an upper ridge over the West and a deep low, spinning away from the Canadian maritimes. Another winter-like feature will be the approach of the Alberta clipper late in the weekend or very early in the week with a threat of some light (and possibly frozen!) precipitation.

Today: Clearing and turning much colder following a passage of a vigorous cold front. Mid afternoon highs around 54F (12C) will plunge rapidly after sunset. Strong west to northwesterly winds at 15-30 mph (24-48 kmh).

Tonight: Clear and cold and blustery with lows in the low 30s in the city (1-2C) and mid 20s inland (-4 to -2C).

Saturday: Clear start with intervals of clouds and sun through the day. Cold and windy with a high of 42F (6C). Northwesterly winds 15-25 mph (24-40 kmh).

Saturday night: Clearing after sunset. Quite cold with slowly diminishing winds. Lows in the mid to upper 20s (-5 to -2C).

Sunday: Clear and cold with increasing high cloudiness late in the day. Highs in low 40s (5-6C).