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December 17, 1995
Web posted at: 12:20 a.m. EST (0520 GMT)

Author Salman Rushdie survives car accident


SYDNEY, Australia (CNN) -- British author Salman Rushdie has survived a car accident in Sydney, Australia. Sydney police said that the car Rushdie was driving appeared to cross into the wrong side of the road and collide with a truck Saturday afternoon. The car scraped the side of the truck, then hit a tree.

Police said a 34-year-old woman and a 16-year-old male -- both from London -- were in the car with Rushdie, 48. All three of them were taken to the hospital in the town of Milton, about 120 miles south of Sydney.

Rushdie was treated for cuts, abrasions, and a sore right arm. The woman and youth were treated for cuts and abrasions. All three were released after treatment. The truck driver was not injured.

Rushdie is in Australia promoting his latest novel, "The Moor's Last Sigh".

A Booker Prize winner, Rushdie has lived under a death sentence for the past six years ordered by Iran's late Ayatollah Khomeini for his novel "The Satanic Verses," which allegedly blasphemed the Moslem faith.

Israeli army withdraws from another West Bank town

QALQILYA, West Bank (CNN) -- Israeli soldiers pulled out of another West Bank town Saturday, a day ahead of schedule.

In accord with the Israeli-PLO peace deal, Qalqilya is the fourth of six West Bank towns that is being transferred to Palestinian rule by the end of the year. Later Saturday, 400 Palestinian police were sent to the town as stipulated under the peace agreement.

Hundreds of residents cheered as the Israeli army withdrew from their military headquarters in the town, which spans the 1967 Middle East war border with Israel.

Since the assassination of Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin, Israel and the PLO have stepped up the peace process by removing Israeli troops and extending Palestinian rule to the West Bank from Gaza and Jericho.

One person dead after bomb blasts in Spain


VALENCIA, Spain (CNN) -- A bomb warning didn't come in time to prevent a series of deadly explosions in Spain Saturday.

One person was killed and four others were wounded when three bombs exploded in different parts of a Valenica department store within one hour. The building was being evacuated after two warnings were phoned in by a Basque separatist group when the blasts began.

Two other bombs were discovered in the store before they were detonated.

The Basque separatist group ETA is said to have planted the bombs in protest of the European Union country summit in Madrid. The group is said to also be responsible for a December 11 car bomb attack that killed six Navy employees in Madrid.

ETA is reported to have killed more than 750 people since 1968 when it began fighting for the independence of northern Spain's three Basque provinces.

European Union plans to expand membership

MADRID, Spain (CNN) -- Leaders of the 15 countries attending the annual European Union summit Saturday set a date to begin membership talks in 1997.

It was the first time the EU has made solid plans to discuss new membership. Under the proposed plan, several Eastern European countries, to be named later, could be allowed to join the union by 2000.

Among the candidates are Hungary, Poland, and the Czech Republic. Central and Eastern European nations from Latvia on the Baltic sea to Slavonia on the Mediterranean are making strong bids for membership in the EU and NATO before the turn of the century. Membership in the organizations would ensure the nations of Western political and security alliances and make them eligible for subsidies.

Britain blocks European anti-racism drive

MADRID, Spain (CNN) -- Britain failed to find common ground on the race issue with the other members of the European Union during their annual summit Sunday.

The other 14 countries want to enforce tougher laws against racism, but Britain said that its anti-racism laws are already more strict than its EU neighbors and refused to go along with legislation, which it said would affect its principle of free speech.

Britain also opposed legislation that would give the European Court of Justice the authority to oversee disputes about Europol, the new European police agency based in the Hague.

Because the nations could not agree on either the Europol or racism issues, they were dropped from the final summit communique.

Memorial park to honor Mao Tse-tung


BEIJING, China (CNN) -- As Mao Tse-tung's teachings become less and less relevant to modern China, his home town is opening a memorial park to honor the late leader.

The $4.8 million park will open December 26 -- the 102nd anniversary of his birth -- in the Hunan province town of Shaoshan. It will feature dioramas of historic places connected with Mao, and a memorial hall will contain 200 pictures of the "great helmsman" in historic settings.

After leading the communists to power in 1949, Mao became a god-like figure to many Chinese. But his economic and political campaigns resulted in tens of millions of deaths.

Soon after Mao's death in 1976, successor Deng Xiaoping proclaimed that Mao had been 70 percent right but 30 percent wrong. Deng implemented market reforms to replace Mao's rigid Stalinist economic system, and Mao's relevance quickly faded.

Spanish general who confronted rebels dies

GUADALAJARA, Spain (CNN) -- Former Defense Minister and Lt. Gen. Manuel Gutierrez Mellado, who confronted soldiers as they stormed Parliament in a failed 1981 coup, died Friday in a car accident. He was 83.

During the 1981 incident, Gutierrez Mellado leaped from his chair in Parliament and got into a shoving match with the civil guard leader of the attempted coup as soldiers fired guns into the air.

A camera captured this scene, and it became one of the most famous symbols of Spain's transition to democracy after the death of dictator Francisco Franco in 1975.

South African gunmen kill 10


DURBAN, South Africa (CNN) -- Gunmen killed at least 10 people, including a six-month-old child strapped to its mother's back, in what appeared to be politically motivated violence in South Africa's Zulu heartland on Friday night.

The attacks on two families took place just hours after President Nelson Mandela said he and his Zulu rival, Inkatha leader Mangosuthu Buthelezi, would launch a new initiative to end political violence in KwaZulu-Natal.

In the south coast town of Paddock, gunmen burst into two homesteads Friday night and opened fire.

Both families were Inkatha supporters. Police believe the attacks were politically linked. At least 13,000 people were killed in political violence between supporters of Mandela's African National Congress and those of Inkatha in the province during the decade leading up to the April 1994 democracy elections, but since then political unrest has died down..


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