Archive for Friday, January 28, 2005

Briefly - World

January 28, 2005


Sri Lanka

Judge set to hear evidence on 'Baby 81'

A judge will begin hearing evidence next week from nine women who each claim that an infant dubbed "Baby 81" is her lost child, officials said Wednesday.

One month after being separated from his family during the Indian Ocean tsunami, the child is still being cared for at a hospital in eastern Sri Lanka where he was the 81st admission on the day of the disaster.

Judge M.P. Mohaideen, in the eastern town of Kalmunai, said he would start hearing evidence Tuesday.

"I will go through all the evidence and if I am not satisfied, I will order a DNA test," Mohaideen said.

DNA testing is uncommon and expensive in less-developed eastern Sri Lanka, and would require sending samples to the capital, Colombo.


U.N. peacekeepers secure neighborhood

The U.N. peacekeepers secured the slum block by block, house by house. Sharpshooters scanned alleys from high rooftops. Tractors filled ditches and cleared away burned-up car chassis that had been used as barricades to keep out authorities.

Until Thursday, part of the Bel Air neighborhood near the presidential palace in downtown Port-au-Prince was a no-go zone -- a twisting warren of bloodshed dominated by armed gangs loyal to ousted President Jean-Bertrand Aristide.

But the 700 U.N. peacekeepers who rolled in before dawn were eagerly greeted by residents happy to be freed -- at least for the day -- from the gang members who constantly terrorize them.

Led by the Brazilians, the U.N. Stabilization Mission in Haiti now has 6,003 soldiers and 1,400 civilian police officers and has recently begun more ambitious operations in pro-Aristide holdouts such as Bel Air.


Afghan elections might be delayed

Afghanistan's dramatic march to democracy hit a potential speed bump, with the foreign minister saying Thursday that crucial parliamentary elections due in May might be delayed by as much as two months.

Foreign Minister Abdullah said the technical challenges of organizing the vote were to blame for the possible delay, but that his people would understand and get behind the election.

The foreign minister, speaking at the World Economic Forum in Davos, did not elaborate on what technical preparations could cause the delay.


Palestinian leaders issue weapons ban

The Palestinian Authority on Thursday banned civilians from carrying weapons, taking a step to curb militants who often brandish guns on the streets of the West Bank and Gaza Strip.

Palestinian Prime Minister Ahmad Qureia issued the order at a meeting of the Palestinian National Security Council, said Saeb Erekat, the Palestinian minister in charge of negotiations.

It was unclear how the order would be enforced and whether it meant that militants would be disarmed, as demanded by Israel.

The order was an attempt to reassert Palestinian Authority control over cities and towns where gunmen have enforced gang rule and formed armed militias affiliated with various militant factions.

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