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Briefs (left)

Palestinian Bomber Kills Himself
And 5 Others Near Israel Mall

By Greg Myre

An Israeli security guard stopped a Palestinian suicide bomber from entering a busy shopping mall in this seaside town on Monday, but the bomber still detonated his explosives, killing himself and five other people and wounding dozens, the Israeli police said.

Subsequently, Prime Minister Ariel Sharon called an emergency meeting of senior Israeli security officials to plot a response. No official information was released on Israel’s plans, but the Israeli media, citing military sources, said a large operation in the West Bank was possible.

“We will do everything we can so that attacks like these will not occur in the future,” Shaul Mofaz, the defense minister, told Israeli Army radio.

The attack was the third time since April 2001 that a Palestinian bomber had struck in the same place — just outside the main entrance to the Sharon mall in Netanya. The mall is named for a region in Israel, not for the prime minister. The bombers have not been able to get past security guards to enter the mall proper, where many more casualties could occur. Still, the three bombings, which included attacks in May 2001 and July 12 of this year, have killed 15 people.

Kazakh President Re-Elected;
Voting Flawed, Observers Say

By C.j. Chivers

President Nursultan Nazarbayev of Kazakhstan secured a third term in office in the election over the weekend with an overwhelming victory, the country’s election commission announced Monday, while a prominent international observer mission said the election did not meet democratic standards.

Nazarbayev, a former Soviet leader who has ruled here since 1989, received 91 percent of the votes cast, according to official results. His closest challenger, Zharmakhan Tuyakbai, received 6.6 percent.

The margin, embraced by Nazarbayev and his government as a fresh mandate and a confirmation of his work in modernizing this oil-rich state, was quickly challenged by the opposition. International observers described the election as flawed.

Kazakhstan has never held an election that met international standards. The independent observers, leaders of a 460-member mission from the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, said that the government’s conduct in the campaign and on election day again limited the chance for meaningful competition and prevented voters from making a free, informed choice.

New British Law Allows
Same-Sex Civil Partnerships

By Alan Cowell

From Brighton to Birmingham and beyond, gay and lesbian couples began registering Monday for the first ceremonies later this month permitting a form of same-sex marriage in Britain.

As a new law permitting what are called civil partnerships came into effect, at least 1,200 couples scheduled ceremonies set to take place between Dec.19 in Northern Ireland and Dec.21 in England and Wales.

“This is an important piece of legislation that gives legal recognition to relationships which until now were invisible in the eyes of the law,” said Meg Munn, a government minister.

The Times of London, once the staid voice of the establishment, extended the “Births, Marriages and Deaths” column in its Court and Social Register pages to included a new category “Civil Partnerships.”