- The Washington Times - Friday, January 14, 2005

PAKISTAN

Curfew imposed amid religious strife

ISLAMABAD — Authorities imposed a round-the-clock curfew in a second, remote town in northern Pakistan to contain sectarian unrest that has left 17 persons dead, officials said.

Hundreds of Shi’ite Muslims also took to the streets in Skardu to mourn the death Thursday of a prominent Shi’ite cleric whose shooting last week triggered deadly riots in Gilgit, another Himalayan town. The cleric, Agha Ziauddin, was fatally wounded Jan. 8 when at least two gunmen opened fire on his car in Gilgit.

Faisal Saleh Hayyat, federal minister for northern areas, confirmed troops had been sent to Skardu, about 100 miles southeast of Gilgit, “after an unfortunate incident” that he refused to discuss.

NEPAL

Amnesty accuses Maoists of abuses

KATMANDU — Amnesty International has accused Nepal’s Maoist rebels of serious human rights abuses, such as killings and abductions, the BBC reported Wednesday.

In an open letter, the London-based human rights group accused the rebels of violating human rights and urged the rebel leadership to investigate such abuses and take action against the guilty.

Responding to reports of Maoist abuse, Ingrid Massage, interim director of Amnesty International’s Asia and Pacific regional program, urged Maoist leader Prachanda to guarantee the safety of all civilians and unconditionally release those abducted.

GEORGIA

Breakaway Abkhazia elects first president

SUKHUMI — A businessman was elected leader of Georgia’s separatist region of Abkhazia, officials said Thursday, in a vote that raised ethnic tensions and highlighted behind-the-scenes jostling for influence between Russia and Georgia’s U.S.-backed government.

Sergei Bagapsh said that under his leadership, the unrecognized republic would maintain relations with countries that “treat us as a sovereign state.” Abkhazia’s central election commission announced Thursday that Mr. Bagapsh won 90.1 percent of the vote, putting him 85 points ahead of his sole opponent, Jakub Lakoba.

Weekly notes

The eldest daughter of Kyrgyzstan’s President Askar Akayev is weighing an appeal by students for her to run in Feb. 27 parliamentary elections, state television in the ex-Soviet republic reports. On Tuesday, about 300 students handed Bermet Akayeva a petition signed by nearly 5,000 students, the report said. “I need a couple of days to consult — this initiative is somewhat unexpected and frankly surprising,” said Miss Akayeva, 32. … The United States turned over two patrol boats to its military ally Uzbekistan this week to guard the river border with Afghanistan, the U.S. Embassy in Tashkent announced. The 65-foot Gyurza patrol boats made in Ukraine, which cost $5.6 million in all, changed hands in a ceremony on the Amu Darya River, which forms the 125-mile Uzbek-Afghan border.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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