- The Washington Times - Wednesday, June 16, 2004

COLOMBIA

Suspected rebels massacre 34

BOGOTA — Suspected leftist rebels killed 34 peasants in a jungle hamlet in Colombia yesterday in the worst massacre since President Alvaro Uribe took office nearly two years ago, officials said.

Survivors said the attackers pulled the victims from their homes at dawn, bound their hands and feet, then shot them execution-style.

The rebels, suspected of belonging to the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or FARC, gunned down the peasants after accusing them of picking coca leaves for right-wing paramilitaries, police said. Coca leaf is the raw material for cocaine, which has fueled violence in a four-decade war.

IRAQ

Group says it attacked contractors

CAIRO — A militant group allied with al Qaeda has claimed responsibility for the car bombing Monday of a convoy in Baghdad that killed 13 persons, including three General Electric Co. employees, according to an Internet statement issued in the group’s name.

“Your brothers, the holy warriors, … were able to set a successful trap that targeted the mercenaries’ convoy in the center of the Iraqi capital, Baghdad,” said the statement signed by the military wing of Jamaat al-Tawhid wa’l-Jihad, or the Monotheism and Jihad group.

The group is led by Abu Musab Zarqawi, a Jordanian operating in Iraq. U.S. authorities think that Zarqawi runs his own terrorist operation but is allied with al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden.

AFGHANISTAN

Rocket explodes near NATO base

KABUL — A rocket exploded near North Atlantic Treaty Organization headquarters in Kabul yesterday and wounded an Afghan soldier, officials said.

The attack came as President Hamid Karzai was in Washington to address Congress and hold talks with President Bush expected to focus on the battle against Islamist militants and plans for Afghan elections in September.

An Afghan official said one soldier was wounded from the explosion.

FRANCE

Mayor suspended for ‘marrying’ 2 men

PARIS — France’s interior minister yesterday suspended a leading Green party lawmaker from his job as mayor of a southwestern town for one month for conducting a same-sex “marriage” in defiance of authorities.

Noel Mamere, mayor of Begles, near Bordeaux, officiated at a June 5 “marriage” between two men, saying he wanted to take a step toward ending discrimination of all kinds.

The order from Interior Minister Dominique de Villepin was based on a law allowing the suspension of mayors who “gravely misunderstand their duties,” the ministry said.

ZIMBABWE

Mugabe refuses to meet U.N. official

HARARE — U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan’s special envoy for humanitarian needs in southern Africa called off a visit to Zimbabwe yesterday after he was told that neither President Robert Mugabe nor any of his top officials were available to see him.

The U.N. World Food Program had been feeding nearly 6 million people — almost half of Zimbabwe’s population — at the height of the lean season last year. It currently is feeding about 650,000 a month.

The cancellation of the visit underscores a deepening rift between the United Nations and Zimbabwe, which says it no longer needs emergency food aid.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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