Karimov blames Islamic militants, violence flares

ANDIJAN, Uzbekistan - Thousands of terrified Uzbeks trying to flee into Kyrgyzstan burned a government building Saturday and attacked border guards, a second day of violence triggered by a brazen jail break to free accused Islamic militants and a massive demonstration against economic conditions under the iron-fisted rule of President Islam Karimov.

There was no immediate word on casualties in the latest violence in the former republic of the ex-Soviet Union, but witnesses to Friday's mayhem said more than 200 people were killed in gunfire after government troops confronted the huge demonstration.

Andijan is Uzbekistan's fourth-largest city, about 30 miles from the country's easternmost border in the narrow finger of territory that protrudes deep into Kyrgyzstan, where an uprising in late March ousted that country's only post-Soviet leader.

Vatican beatifies nuns who helped in their countries

VATICAN CITY - A German-born nun who cared for leprosy patients on a Hawaiian island and a Spanish nun who started a missionary society were beatified Saturday in St. Peter's Basilica in a ceremony led by a top Vatican cardinal representing Pope Benedict XVI.

Benedict's decision not to preside over the ceremony marks a shift from Pope John Paul II, who beatified and canonized more faithful than all his predecessors over the past 500 years combined. John Paul, weather permitting, would hold his saint-making ceremonies in St. Peter's Square on Sunday mornings to encourage huge turnouts.

Benedict designated Cardinal Jose Saraiva Martins to lead the beatification ceremony marking the last formal step before possible sainthood. The cardinal heads the Vatican's Congregation for the Causes of the Saints.

Ruling party wins constitutional election in Taiwan

TAIPEI, Taiwan - Taiwan's ruling party won an election Saturday for a special assembly charged with amending the constitution, in a boost for President Chen Shui-bian's policy of resisting unification with mainland China.

With 99 percent of the ballots counted, the Central Election Commission said the Democratic Progressive Party had won 42.5 percent of the vote, against 38.9 percent for the opposition Nationalist Party.

The result appeared to be vindication at home for Chen's independence-leaning policies, after recent visits to the mainland by two opposition leaders put him on the defensive and transformed Saturday's National Assembly election into a test of strength for his ruling party.

China gave a lavish welcome to the two opposition leaders - Lien Chan of the Nationalist Party and James Soong of the People First Party - who favor eventual reunification with the mainland and have criticized Chen's efforts to strengthen Taiwan's status as a self-governing entity.

Yemenis, others in Mideast voice anger over Quran incident

SAN'A, Yemen - Yemen's government and thousands of university students on Saturday added their voices to the Muslim world's anger over alleged desecration of Islam's holy book, the Quran, by U.S. troops at the Guantanamo detention facility.

The Arab League, based in Cairo, Egypt, also issued a statement saying if the allegations panned out, Washington should apologize to Muslims.

In Afghanistan, where recent protests against the reported desecration left 15 people dead, President Hamid Karzai blamed the violence on opponents trying to tarnish the country's image. The denunciations follow protests elsewhere in the Middle East and Asia after Newsweek magazine reported that U.S. interrogators at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, placed Qurans in washrooms to unsettle suspects, and "flushed a holy book down the toilet."

- From wire reports