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Archive for Saturday, April 2, 2005

Briefly - World

April 2, 2005

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Kyrgyzstan

Candidate declares presidential bid

An opposition figure jailed by ousted President Askar Akayev said Friday he would run for Kyrgyzstan's presidency, setting up what could be a brutal showdown against the acting leader of the Central Asian state shaken by last week's uprising.

Felix Kulov, who was released from prison last week when protesters stormed the government headquarters and opposition leaders seized power, also sharply disagreed with his chief rival over Akayev's resignation.

Kulov, who was widely seen as a political prisoner, is among the best-known opponents of Akayev. He said he expected to be cleared soon of the charges against him, allowing him to enter the June 26 presidential race.

Acting President Kurmanbek Bakiyev also has announced plans to run.

The election could become a test of whether Kyrgyzstan can avert new unrest and prevent a potentially catastrophic north-south rift. Kulov hails from the more prosperous north, while Bakiyev's base is south of the mountain ranges that divide this strategic nation of 5 million.

Sudan

Ruling party says U.N. decision targets Islam

Sudanese hard-liners vowed Friday to defy a U.N. Security Council resolution referring Darfur war crimes suspects to the International Criminal Court, saying it was unfair for Sudanese suspects to face The Hague tribunal when Americans are exempt.

Sudan opposes sending any of its citizens accused of committing war crimes during the two-year conflict in the country's west to a foreign court, saying Sudan's judicial system would take charge of any such prosecutions.

The U.N. resolution passed Thursday only after controversial concessions were made, including guarantees that citizens of countries not party to the ICC working in Sudan -- such as the United States -- would not be handed over to the court or any other nation's judiciary if they commit crimes in the African country.

"We will not allow any arrest or trial of a Sudanese official, unless they will arrest the 30 million Sudanese people and try them," Abdul Galeel Nazeer Karori, a leading Islamist and member of Sudan's ruling National Congress party, said on state-run TV.

Indonesia

Quake relief effort focusing on relief

The focus of international aid on earthquake-devastated Nias Island shifted Friday from rescue to relief, with one U.N. official saying it was unlikely any more survivors would be found.

A total of 455 people were confirmed dead -- 424 on the island and 31 in Aceh province -- from Monday night's 8.7-magnitude earthquake in Sumatra, which had barely recovered from the Dec. 26 quake-driven tsunami, said Col. Zainuri Lubis, a local police officer compiling a list of the dead.

The government said the final death toll would be about 500, lowering earlier estimates of 2,000.

International aid agencies have taken the lead in relief and recovery efforts on a string of islands off Sumatra, diverting supplies stockpiled to assist victims of the December earthquake and tsunami that killed more than 126,000 people in Aceh province in Indonesia, and at least 48,000 in 11 other countries on the Indian Ocean's rim.

Lebanon

Explosion rocks mountain resort

A bomb Friday damaged a shopping center in a Christian area northeast of Beirut, the fourth attack against an anti-Syrian target in two weeks. The blast injured seven people, one of them an American, police said.

The explosion in the resort town of Broummana, 10 miles northeast of the Lebanese capital, started a fire and shattered glass in several buildings, blew out store shutters and smashed several cars. Firefighters working in a steady downpour evacuated residents at the posh complex.

Lebanon has been in turmoil since the Feb. 14 assassination of former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri in a massive bombing on a Beirut street. The attack killed 19 others.

The assassination, which the anti-Syrian opposition blames on Syria and its Lebanese allies, set off massive anti-Syrian demonstrations and international demands that Damascus withdraw its army from Lebanon after nearly three decades. Since the assassination, Syria has pulled out 6,000 of its 14,000 troops.

Mexico City

Panel strips mayor of political immunity

A congressional committee voted Friday to strip leftist Mexico City Mayor Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador of political immunity, setting the stage for his possible indictment and conviction on contempt of court charges, which would bar him from seeking the presidency next year.

After nearly six hours of deliberations, the four-member committee voted 3-1 that there was enough evidence to show the mayor could be charged with violating a March 14, 2001, court order to stop constructing an access road to a hospital.

The vote is an opinion, not a formal charge, and it will be taken in the near future to the 500-member Congress for approval or dismissal.

Spain

Police arrest 13 people for Madrid bombings

Spanish police arrested 13 people Friday in connection with the train bombings that killed 191 people last year in Madrid, and the suspected al-Qaida leader who allegedly inspired the attacks was extradited from Belgium.

Youssef Belhadj, a 28-year-old Moroccan who was arrested in Belgium shortly after the bombings, was jailed in Spain on 191 counts of murder, a court official said.

The Interior Ministry said six Moroccans, four Syrians, one Egyptian, one Palestinian and one Algerian were arrested in raids in and around Madrid.

Four of the Moroccans are brothers linked to Belhadj, the suspect in whose name the attacks were claimed.

Brazil

Disgruntled police suspected in massacre

A band of suspected rogue policemen reportedly angry about an internal crackdown killed at least 29 people in a random shooting spree outside Rio de Janeiro, authorities said Friday, raising fears among residents and rights groups of a revival of "death squads" in and around this violence-plagued seaside resort.

The victims, five of them children, were gunned down Thursday night in two gritty northern Rio suburbs, sowing panic and chaos in the streets. Witnesses described the attacks as coming so fast and indiscriminately that bystanders had no time to flee or duck for cover.

Officials suspect the attackers may be policemen linked to a group of eight officers from a nearby precinct who were arrested earlier Thursday in connection with two separate killings.

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