Insurgents attack Nigeria's pipelines

LAGOS, Nigeria - Militants staged coordinated attacks on three pipelines yesterday, inflicting the worst damage on Nigeria's vital oil infrastructure in more than a year and signaling an escalation in hostilities that led world petroleum prices to spike.

Hours later, gunmen stormed a vessel in the southern Niger Delta and abducted four foreigner workers, two separate private-industry officials said on condition of anonymity. No other details were available.

The violence followed last week's kidnappings of dozens of foreign oil workers in the impoverished region. Militants say they are trying to shut down Africa's largest crude exporter, demanding that the people of the region get a bigger share of the oil wealth.- AP

Castro blames U.S. in hijacking try

HAVANA - Convalescing Cuban leader Fidel Castro blamed the United States for a hijacking attempt, saying in a statement published yesterday that two soldiers who seized a plane and killed an officer thought they would escape punishment if they reached U.S. soil.

Castro, 80, linked Thursday's failed attempt to the recent release of anticommunist militant Luis Posada Carriles from U.S. custody on bond, calling the attempt "a consequence of freeing the monster of terror."

Cuba and Venezuela want Posada extradited in the 1976 bombing of a Cuban jet, but the United States has refused to send him to either country. In Texas yesterday, a judge threw out an indictment that accused Posada of lying to immigration authorities, saying the government manipulated his naturalization interview.- AP

China, Russia said to be defying U.N.

CAIRO, Egypt - Amnesty International accused China and Russia yesterday of violating a U.N. arms embargo by supplying Sudan with weapons and equipment that were used to fuel deadly violence against civilians in Darfur and Chad.

The human rights group said the "bulk" of the arms used in Darfur and Chad were transferred from China and Russia. Moscow and Beijing rejected the allegations. Sudan said the report was false.

In Beijing yesterday, the Foreign Ministry said China would send a military engineering unit to help strengthen the overtaxed African Union peacekeeping force in Darfur, according to the Washington Post. - AP

Elsewhere:

The leader of France's defeated Socialists appealed for calm yesterday after violence following Nicholas Sarkozy's election as president left cars burned and store windows smashed.

Pressured even by its allies, Iran yesterday accepted a compromise on the agenda text of a 130-nation nuclear conference in Austria, clearing the way to resolve a deadlock that threatened to block the gathering.

Rival lawmakers in Taiwan's legislature yesterday climbed on one another's shoulders, traded punches, and jostled violently for position around the speaker's dais as the chamber dissolved into chaos over an electoral-reform bill.