An Anxious World Rings in New Year With Eye on Security

From Times Wire Services

Revelers and police flooded the streets of Paris, Israelis crowded into Tel Aviv clubs and even U.S. sailors in the Persian Gulf gave a warm welcome to the New Year despite tightened security brought on by the specter of war or terrorism.

In addition to 6,500 police beefing up security in Paris, the city’s subway and suburban train network stayed open all night for the first time to discourage the use of private vehicles. Several hundred thousand people gathered near the Champs-Elysees to celebrate. Vehicles were stopped and checked throughout the night.

With subzero temperatures prevailing across much of Russia, crowds thronged Moscow’s Red Square. Police presence was high after terrorist attacks on a Moscow theater in October and the Kremlin-backed administration in Chechnya at the end of the year.


Russians with a taste for a bracing New Year swim braved freezing temperatures to plant traditional festive fir trees on the seabed and at the bottom of a lake Tuesday.

American forces stationed in the Persian Gulf region found ways to celebrate despite the threat of war against Iraq.

About 5,000 sailors grilled meat and ate cookies aboard the aircraft carrier Constellation, which has been launching patrols over southern Iraq since it arrived Dec. 17.

At Camp Doha and other bases in Kuwait, U.S. troops partied with alcohol-free beer and champagne.

The tanks and Humvees were parked off to the side as soldiers filled up recreation halls and decorated tents to dance, pop balloons and stage talent shows.

In Israel, revelers crowded Tel Aviv nightclubs and hotels, despite threats of attacks.

Security guards checked people entering clubs on Allenby Street. The Tel Aviv Hilton said in a statement that its annual New Year’s ballroom party was a sellout with 650 participants.


The party spirit was also high in Malaysia, where daredevil skydivers near midnight threw themselves off the world’s tallest buildings, the 1,483-foot Petronas Twin Towers in Kuala Lumpur. Tens of thousands of people partied in the park at the foot of the towers.

There have been jitters across Asia since Oct. 12, when bombs tore through two nightclubs on the Indonesian island of Bali, killing at least 191 people.

President Megawati Sukarnoputri struck a gong to ring in the new year near the site of the bombings, after prayers for the victims and pledges to fight terrorism.