- The Washington Times - Sunday, April 30, 2006

SUDAN

Government to sign Darfur peace deal

ABUJA, Nigeria — The Sudanese government said yesterday it was ready to sign a deal brokered by the African Union (AU) to bring speedy peace to the war-torn Darfur region despite reservations over some of its contents.

But on the eve of the AU’s deadline for an agreement, the divided Darfur rebel movements voiced reticence about the peace accord, which they are negotiating in talks in Nigeria with the Sudan government.

The Darfur crisis has claimed more than 300,000 lives, and while about 2 million others have been displaced since the civil war broke out three years ago.

IRAQ

Al Qaeda No. 2 taunts United States

CAIRO — The U.S. military has seen only “loss, disaster and misfortune” in Iraq, al Qaeda’s No. 2 said, in a video message that a U.S. official deemed part of a propaganda campaign to demonstrate the terror network’s relevance.

The video by Ayman al-Zawahri, posted on an Islamic militant Web forum yesterday, appeared within the same week as an audiotape by Osama bin Laden and a video by the head of al Qaeda’s branch in Iraq — a volley of messages by the group’s most prominent figures.

Al-Zawahri, an Egyptian terrorist thought to be hiding in Afghanistan or Pakistan, also denounced the leaders of Egypt, Jordan, Saudi Arabia and Iraq as “traitors” and called on Muslims to rise up to “confront them.”

INDONESIA

Terror suspect escapes from raid

WONOSOBO — One of Southeast Asia’s most-wanted terrorists escaped a raid on his suspected hideout yesterday, but two of his accomplices were killed during an hour long shootout, police said.

Noordin Top, regarded as a key leader of the al Qaeda-linked group Jemaah Islamiyah, was not in the safe house in Central Java province when a heavily armed, elite anti-terrorist unit arrived before dawn, deputy police spokesman Brig. Gen. Anton Bachrul Alam said.

Noordin, considered his group’s key strategist and one of its main recruiters, has eluded capture for years.

KYRGYZSTAN

Protesters confront president, seek reform

BISHKEK — Thousands of protesters demanding reform gathered in the main square in Kyrgyzstan’s capital yesterday but dispersed peacefully after the president and prime minister addressed the crowd.

The rally of about 10,000 in Bishkek underlined the persistent tension 13 months after a popular revolt forced longtime leader Askar Akayev into exile.

Protesters booed President Kurmanbek Bakiyev as he arrived amid heavy security along with Prime Minister Felix Kulov. Mr. Bakiyev said that politicians “who say that there has been no change in the country” are “blind and shortsighted.”

SRI LANKA

Government wants talks with rebels

COLOMBO — Sri Lanka’s government said yesterday it was prepared to travel to Switzerland anytime for peace talks with Tamil rebels, in an atmosphere of fears the country was slipping back to civil war.

The two sides had been scheduled to meet in Geneva last week but the rebels backed out, citing attacks on ethnic Tamil civilians. On Tuesday, a suicide bomber targeted Sri Lanka’s top general, killing 11 persons, including the pregnant female bomber, and badly wounding the military commander.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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