Archive for Wednesday, June 20, 2001

World Briefs

June 20, 2001

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Ireland: Peace plan threatened if IRA doesn't disarm

The Irish Republican Army must start to disarm or watch Northern Ireland's peace deal unravel, Ireland's prime minister warned Tuesday.

Bertie Ahern gave the unusually gloomy assessment to a briefing of Irish lawmakers a day after he and British Prime Minister Tony Blair led talks among Northern Ireland parties designed to salvage their joint Catholic-Protestant government.

Ahern, normally upbeat about the peace process, said it looked increasingly likely the power-sharing government would face suspension or collapse. He appealed to the outlawed IRA to prevent this by fulfilling its year-old pledge to disarm.

A visibly frustrated Ahern said the IRA's willingness to show some of its secret weapons depots to diplomats, and to hold occasional talks with disarmament officials, was "not enough."

Benin: Immigrants adrift off African coast

The U.N. refugee agency expressed alarm Tuesday for 186 immigrants aboard a ship that has been drifting in the Atlantic Ocean for three weeks, after being refused entry at port after port along Africa's western coast.

"We're hungry and thirsty. Help us to get out of here," one 16-year-old, Valerie, cried when an AP reporter in a chartered boat pulled up alongside the Ghanaian-registered Alnar. The ship is said to be carrying at least 79 children.

The plight of the Alnar follows a crackdown on immigrants by West African countries, which have been stung by international criticism of the child-slave trade and other trafficking.

The boat on Tuesday was at sea somewhere off of West Africa's coast, after abruptly sailing out of the waters off Cotonou, Benin, late Monday.

India: Political violence turns deadly

Paramilitary forces were called in Tuesday to help soldiers patrol the streets of Imphal in northeastern India, a day after rioters burned the Manipur state legislature building to protest a government truce with separatists. Thirteen people died and dozens more were wounded Monday when police fired on the rioters. Protesters Monday had torched public buildings, including the legislature and the official residence of the recently dismissed chief minister, Radhabinod Koijam.

Paramilitary forces guarding the home opened fire on the crowd, killing 13 people and wounding nearly 30 others. Late Monday, a police officer was killed in an ambush by unidentified gunmen, authorities said.

The violence erupted on the last day of a three-day strike to protest an agreement reached last week between the federal government and the separatist Nationalist Socialist Council of Nagaland. The government and the Naga rebels had agreed to extend a four-year cease-fire for another year and to expand it beyond Nagaland state, a predominantly Christian region in Hindu-majority India.

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