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Archive for Thursday, February 21, 2002

World Briefs

February 21, 2002

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Colombia: Peace talks end after rebel hijacking

President Andres Pastrana broke off the peace process with leftist rebels Wednesday night, hours after the guerrillas hijacked a jetliner and kidnapped a prominent senator.

In a nationally televised address, Pastrana gave the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia until midnight, three hours away, to abandon the vast safe haven he granted them at the start of the process.

The president warned that if they didn't leave he would send in troops.

There was no immediate reaction from the 16,000-strong rebel group.

Nepal: Security forces kill dozen Maoist rebels

Security forces shot and killed four Maoist rebels in the town of Kalikot west of the capital, the Defense Ministry said Wednesday. Eight more died elsewhere in overnight gun battles, authorities said.

A police officer also was killed when rebels attacked a police post at Dhimuwa, 125 miles west of Katmandu, Interior Security Minister Khum Bahadur Khadka said.

Meanwhile, lawmakers debated extending the state of emergency in this Himalayan kingdom by another three months. A state of emergency was imposed Nov. 26 after the rebels abruptly broke off peace talks and resumed fighting government forces.

In the deadliest attack since they launched their insurgency in 1996, the rebels killed 137 people 77 police officers, 55 soldiers, an intelligence officer and four civilians Sunday in the town of Mangalsen.

Bolivia: Storm pounds capital; 52 bodies recovered

Rescue workers found more bodies Wednesday in the rivers around Bolivia's capital, La Paz, bringing the number of dead to 52 in the most destructive thunderstorm in the city's history.

The storm collapsed homes and cut electricity Tuesday under a torrent on rain and hail. Many of the dead were vendors who ran to street underpasses where they drowned in flash flooding.

At least 150 people were injured, and estimates of damage were in the millions.

Bolivian President Jorge Quiroga declared a state of emergency in La Paz on Wednesday. Quiroga, who donated blood, promised financial support for victims, but also appealed for foreign aid to help with reconstruction.

Liberia: 15,000 flee fighting

Gun battles between rebels and government troops flared anew near Liberia's capital, forcing at least 15,000 civilians to flee, military officials said Wednesday.

Army commander Francis Dolo said his troops repelled rebels who Tuesday attacked the towns of Heindi and Bong Mines, both about 20 miles northeast of Monrovia.

The fighting was the closest to the capital since clashes broke out two weeks ago at Klay Junction, some 23 miles north of the city.

London: Muslim cleric charged for call to kill Jews

A Muslim cleric was charged Wednesday with incitement to murder, police said, two weeks after a newspaper reported he had urged his followers to kill Jews.

Abdullah el-Faisal, 38, was arrested Monday at a house in east London. He was being detained pending a hearing today at Bow Street Magistrates court.

Lawmakers called for action to be taken against el-Faisal, a Jamaican who lives in east London, after The Times newspaper reported two weeks ago that he had toured Britain calling for the killing of Jews and nonbelievers.

The Times said he was selling audio cassettes instructing all Muslim males to train for battle and calling on boys to learn to use Kalashnikov assault rifles.

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