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SOMALIA

Mortars kill children near peace talks

MOGADISHU — Suspected Islamist insurgents targeted a major reconciliation meeting in Somalia with mortar bombs yesterday, missing the venue but killing at least five children playing nearby and an elderly man, residents said.

Prime Minister Ali Mohamed Gedi told delegates gathered at a former police compound in northern Mogadishu that Somalia must redress its reputation as a terrorist haven.

FRANCE

Chirac questioned in party scheme

PARIS — A judge questioned former President Jacques Chirac for more than four hours yesterday in an investigation into a party financing scandal that dates back to his time as mayor of Paris his attorney said.

It was the first time a former French president has undergone questioning under such conditions and marks a sobering point in Mr. Chirac’s four-decade political career.

The investigation concerns a fake jobs scheme used to finance Mr. Chirac’s conservative party Rally for the Republic, while he was mayor of Paris from 1977 to 1995.

SIERRA LEONE

War crimes court sentences 3 rebels

FREETOWN — A U.N.-backed court sentenced three former rebel leaders to prison yesterday, the first punishments handed down by the war crimes tribunal since it was set up five years ago.

Alex Tamba Brima, 35, and Santigie Borbor Kanu, 42, were each given 50-year jail terms, while Brima Bazzy Kamara, 39, received 45 years.

From wire dispatches and staff reports