Israel: A terrorist bomb blew apart a city bus in Tel Aviv Wednesday, scattering dead and injured over the street in an apparent suicide attack by Islamic militants. At press time Wednesday, the Associated Press reported that 22 people had been killed and 48 injured. An anonymous caller to Israel Radio claimed responsibility for the bombing in the name of Hamas. The latest wave of violence began Oct. 9, when two Arabs with automatic weapons opened fire on a Jerusalem pedestrian mall crowded with shoppers and strollers, killing two people and wounding 13 before they were shot to death by police, Times correspondents reported. The militant Islamic group Hamas claimed responsibility for the midnight attack, which occurred in the downtown Nahalat Shiva neighborhood of West Jerusalem. Although Americans are not normally targeted, the State Department advises that frequent terrorist incidents in the occupied territories and in Israel itself pose a danger. Travelers are advised to avoid crowds and public transportation.
India: After infecting more than 1,000 people and leaving at least four dozen dead, India's first outbreak of plague in nearly three decades is apparently receding. Some nations that imposed a virtual air travel quarantine have begun resuming flights to India. The U.S. State Department urged Americans in infected regions to observe "normal hygienic practices," and advised that travelers leaving India should expect delays in stopover countries, including health screenings.
Germany: Although Germany has a low rate of violent crime and tourists are rarely threatened, travelers should be aware of the recent spate of right-wing hate crimes against various ethnic groups. A young African man, found stabbed and beaten on rail tracks near Berlin, said skinheads had thrown him from the train, according to the Reuters news service. Part of his injured left leg was later amputated. Two weeks later in Magdeburg, four African refugees were beaten and slashed by a group of skinheads, one armed with a broken beer bottle. In the third such neo-Nazi attack in a month, vandals defaced memorial exhibits at the former concentration camp of Sachsenhausen near Berlin.
Netherlands: The country's relatively drug-tolerant image, which attracts thousands of young tourists to Amsterdam and other cities every day, may be about to change, Reuters reports. The Dutch government announced that it is clamping down on coffeehouses, where the sale of "soft" drugs has been largely tolerated. Drugs are illegal in the Netherlands, but the public sale of marijuana and the possession of small amounts of hard drugs have generally not been prosecuted. Existing rules forbidding coffeehouses to advertise or sell drugs to minors will now be strictly enforced to prevent hard-drug dealing on the sites.
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Italy: A 7-year-old boy from Bodega Bay, Calif., was shot to death by bandits in an attempted highway robbery as he and his family were driving in southern Italy's Calabria region. Times correspondent William D. Montalbano reports that the stretch of highway between Salerno and Reggio Calabria is notorious for such attacks.
South Korea: There are no plans to introduce caning, but a presidential spokesman quoted by Reuters said South Korea plans a Singapore-style stiffening of laws against public misconduct. Fines for violating smoking bans will be raised to $62, for illegal parking to $100.
\o7 The U.S. State Department offers recorded travel warnings and advisories at (202) 647-5225; the fax line is (202) 647-3000. \f7