- The Washington Times - Wednesday, June 30, 2004

SIERRA LEONE

U.N. copter crashes, killing 24 aboard

FREETOWN — A U.N. helicopter crashed in Sierra Leone yesterday, killing 24 peacekeepers, aid workers and other civilians on board.

Victims aboard the Russian-made Mi-8 also included the Russian crew, U.N. mission spokeswoman Sharon McPherson said.

There was no word on the cause of the crash.

The United Nations has about 11,800 peacekeepers in Sierra Leone, overseeing the West African nation’s peace accord after a 1991-2002 civil war.

BOSNIA

Arrest of Karadzic reported imminent

NEW YORK — The chief U.N. war-crimes prosecutor for former Yugoslavia said she expects one of the most-wanted figures from the Balkan wars, Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadzic, to be arrested today.

Carla Del Ponte refused yesterday to disclose the basis for her optimism that Mr. Karadzic, who has been in hiding for nearly a decade, will be taken into custody.

“I’m still thinking that somebody is looking for Karadzic very hard, and that he will be arrested very soon,” she said. “Of course, I have [information]. But you all understand that I cannot tell it now publicly. Let’s obtain the arrest of Karadzic, and after, we will speak about what we have done.”

PAKISTAN

Pro-military caretaker named prime minister

ISLAMABAD — Pakistan’s Parliament voted in a caretaker prime minister yesterday in a political shake-up orchestrated by the military that will see a former banker and technocrat eventually take charge.

Shaukat Aziz, credited with reviving the economy as finance minister since 1999, is the pro-military government’s choice as permanent replacement for Zafarullah Khan Jamali, who resigned Saturday after falling out with Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf.

Mr. Aziz needs to win a seat in the lower house of Parliament before he can qualify, meaning that Chaudhry Shujaat Hussain, a backroom negotiator loyal to Gen. Musharraf, takes over in the interim period of up to 50 days.

SINGAPORE

Blackout plunges areas into darkness

Large parts of the island-state of Singapore were plunged into darkness yesterday in a rare blackout triggered by a disruption in natural gas supplies from Indonesia, state television said.

The gas is used to fire electricity generators.

The blackout began at about 10:15 p.m. and affected city areas, including parts of the Orchard Road shopping district and many residential districts. Telephone networks also suffered disruptions.

Power supplies were being restored gradually throughout the evening starting about half an hour after the blackout began.

ITALY

Vandal smashes Venice statues

VENICE — A vandal smashed the arms and beard of a 15th-century statue of Moses in St. Mark’s Square in Venice, and other religious statues in the city lost their hands in similar hammer attacks in the past four days.

Venice Mayor Paolo Costa denounced the wave of vandalism as the work of “an isolated lunatic” after meeting with museum officials to assess the damage.

Sunday night, a man in his 30s attacked a column of the Doge’s Palace on St. Mark’s Square with a hammer, battering the statue of Moses, witnesses said. He fled after a group of tourists alerted the police. The previous night, someone chipped off the hands from statues of St. Mark and St. Francis outside the 16th-century Church of the Redeemer on the island of Giudecca.

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