Archive for Sunday, August 6, 2000

World Briefs

August 6, 2000



Fireworks blast kills at least 21

Explosives intended for making fireworks detonated in an apartment building, killing 21 people and injuring more than two dozen others, state media reported Saturday.

The explosion Friday in central Jiangxi province completely leveled the five-story structure and shattered windows in buildings as far as 660 feet away, the government's Xinhua News Agency reported.

The blast took place as independent fireworks maker Huang Yuexiang was transferring 2 tons of explosives purchased illegally in northern China from his truck to a storage space in the apartment building. The report did not say what sparked the explosion or whether Huang was among the dead.


Taliban opposition claims battle victory

Afghan opposition fighters claimed Saturday to have seized territory from forces of the ruling Taliban in clashes that killed 70 Taliban soldiers. Opposition soldiers claimed they broke through Taliban defense lines and advanced toward the strategic Salang Pass, 60 miles north of the capital, Kabul.

The Taliban denied suffering heavy casualties, saying that they repulsed the opposition attack and the front line remained unchanged.

Northern Ireland

IRA bomber regrets 'accidental' deaths

An Irish Republican Army bomber who killed nine shoppers in 1993 said in an interview published Saturday that the deaths were an accident he regrets. But Sean Kelly, who helped plant a bomb in a fish shop in the mostly Protestant Shankill Road in October 1993, told the weekly North Belfast News that he, too, was a victim of Northern Ireland's "troubles."

Kelly told the newspaper that he had intended to kill leaders of the Protestant paramilitary group the Ulster Defense Assn., whom he believed were meeting above the shop.

"The fact that innocent people died is something I will have to live with for the rest of my life," he said.

Kelly's accomplice, Thomas Begley, was killed when the bomb they were planting exploded prematurely. Kelly lost the sight in one eye and the power in his left arm. Kelly, who says he now supports Northern Ireland's peace process, was freed from the Maze prison last month as part of an early release program linked to the province's 1998 peace agreement.


World's largest bagpipe band gathers

It was music to the ears well, some ears as 10,000 bagpipers and drummers set a record Saturday for the largest-ever pipe band.

Organizers of the pipe-a-thon, a fund-raiser for the Marie Curie Cancer Care charity, said more than 8,600 pipers set out on a procession from Edinburgh Castle along Princes Street in the heart of the Scottish capital.

The skirl of the pipes could be heard for miles. At one point, a ring of bagpipers in kilts encircled the medieval castle that looms over Edinburgh as pipers from Spain, Alaska, Guam, Canada, the United States, Australia and Hong Kong joined their Scottish counterparts.

Among the visitors were the Texas Firefighters Band and the pipe band of the New York City Department of Corrections.

A similar event in 1994 attracted 5,000 pipers. Researchers from the Guinness Book of Records were on hand to verify Saturday's feat.

Ivory Coast

Mutinous soldiers sentenced to prison

A military tribunal has sentenced seven soldiers to 10-year prison terms for participating in a July mutiny in this West African country, newspapers reported Saturday.

The accused are among 45 soldiers charged with disobeying orders, revolt and looting during the mutiny in the central town of Bouake.

One soldier was acquitted at the hearing Friday in the commercial capital, Abidjan, newspapers reported. The rest are scheduled to appear before the tribunal at the Gallieni military base over the next two weeks.

Soldiers in Bouake and other towns rebelled July 4-5 because of perks and bonuses they said were promised for supporting the Christmas Eve coup that brought junta leader Gen. Robert Guei to power in Ivory Coast, a nation that had previously been considered a bastion of stability in volatile West Africa.

In a compromise settlement, the junta promised to pay the soldiers $1,600 each to help them buy houses. The protesters had demanded six times that amount.

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