Archive for Saturday, May 4, 2002

World Briefs

May 4, 2002


India: Air force jet crashes into bank building

An Indian air force jet on routine frontier patrol crashed into a bank building in northwestern India on Friday, starting a fire that killed at least eight people and injured 19, police and hospital officials said.

The pilot, who survived, reported that the Soviet-made MiG-21 had suffered engine failure, Air Force Chief S. Krishnaswamy said in New Delhi. India's aging MiG fleet is prone to crashes, with 100 in the last six years, killing 50 pilots.

The rear portion of the plane burned up, and the front crashed into the two-story building in Jullundur. The bank building, an adjacent plywood warehouse and a commercial building containing shops caught fire.

Geneva: Banks crack down on dubious accounts

Intent on dispelling its image as a money laundering paradise, Switzerland last year blocked a record $1.7 billion in dubious bank accounts a fourfold increase over 2000.

In its annual statistical report released Friday, the money laundering control center of the Federal Police Office said banks and financial companies had reported 417 suspect transactions, compared with 311 the previous year.

The report said the jump was almost solely due to an increase in reports of possible terrorist-related money in the wake of the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon.

After Sept. 11, Switzerland followed the U.S. lead to try to close the financial network of Osama bin Laden by ordering banks to disclose any accounts with possible links to al-Qaida.

Russia: Air, naval base returned to Vietnam

Russia has returned control to Vietnam of the air and naval base at Cam Ranh Bay, a key deep-water port used by American forces during the Vietnam War.

The two sides signed documents completing the handover in a ceremony Thursday, Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Phan Thuy Thanh said.

In 1979, Vietnam and the former Soviet Union signed an agreement on leasing the Cam Ranh base for 25 years. But Russia announced last year that it would withdraw from the base before its lease expires in 2004.

Jerusalem : Soviet dissident's mother dies at 94

Ida Milgrom, who successfully campaigned for the freedom of her imprisoned son, Soviet dissident Natan Sharansky, has died in Israel. She was 94.

Milgrom suffered a stroke March 29 and never regained consciousness. She died Wednesday and was buried Thursday in a hilltop cemetery in Jerusalem.

The Ukrainian native helped win freedom for her son, and in the meantime his name became known worldwide. Sharansky arrived in Israel in 1986 after nine years in Soviet prisons and is now a deputy prime minister and head of Yisrael B'Aliya, a Russian immigrants' party.

Mexico: U.S. citizens expelled for protest participation

Mexico has expelled 18 Americans who are accused of taking part in a machete-waving anti-government rally, apparently the first time President Vicente Fox's administration has expelled foreign activists.

The government announced the expulsions Friday, saying the group of mostly college-aged activists violated a ban on foreigners participating in political activities.

The Americans are accused of joining a march and demonstration on May 1 by farmers from the town of Atenco who are protesting government attempts to expropriate their lands for a new Mexico City airport.

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