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World Scene

- The Washington Times - Sunday, June 17, 2007

YEMEN

Shi'ite rebels agree to a cease-fire

SAN'A — Yemen's government and Shi'ite rebels have reached a cease-fire in a three-year fight that has claimed 4,000 lives this year, representatives of both sides said yesterday.

The deal, reached under mediation from Qatar, requires rebels to hand over their heavy weaponry to the government, a Yemeni security official said. The government agreed to release rebel prisoners, pay for the reconstruction of villages ravaged by the fighting and help displaced people return home, the official said.

The Shi'ite rebellion began in Yemen's north in June 2004 when cleric Hussein Badr Eddin al-Hawthi ordered his followers to take up arms against the government. Sheik al-Hawthi was killed in a clash later that year.

Abdel-Malek al-Hawthi, the current rebel chief and brother of the slain leader, said the rebels had agreed to lay down their arms.

LEBANON

Vote called to replace slain legislators

BEIRUT — The government yesterday called by-elections to fill the parliamentary seats of two assassinated anti-Syrian legislators, opening a new front in Lebanon's worst political crisis since the 1975-90 civil war.

The government called by-elections for Aug. 5 to replace Walid Eido, who was killed last week by a car bomb, and Pierre Gemayel, who was fatally shot in November, Information Minister Ghazi Aridi said after a meeting of the anti-Syrian Cabinet.

President Emile Lahoud, an ally of Damascus, declared yesterday's Cabinet session and any decisions made by it illegal. This suggests he will not approve the voting in the Beirut and nearby Metn districts.

THAILAND

Thousands join anti-junta rally

BANGKOK — Thousands of supporters of ousted Thai Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra braved rainy skies and heavy security yesterday to protest the junta that deposed him.

On Friday, Mr. Thaksin addressed crowds in a recorded speech from London, urging the military rulers to push ahead with elections set for December and calling for reconciliation after months of political turmoil.

Police said about 10,000 people filled a plaza in central Bangkok. The size of the crowd was rivaled by the security force, with more than 10,000 police mobilized for the protest and another 13,000 soldiers on standby in case of violence.

AFGHANISTAN

Suicide bombers kill at least four

KABUL — Taliban suicide bombers carried out a second day of attacks in Afghanistan yesterday, killing at least four persons in the capital and a northern city, raising tensions in areas that had been considered relatively secure.

A suicide car-bomber attacked a military-civilian convoy in Kabul in the morning, killing at least three civilians and wounding five others. Hours later, two bombers riding a motorcycle attacked a Swiss military reconstruction team in Mazar-e-Sharif, killing at least one Afghan civilian and wounding 15.

SOUTH AFRICA

Stolen Nobel prize returned to Tutu

JOHANNESBURG — The Nobel Peace Prize stolen from the Soweto home of South Africa's leading anti-apartheid hero Desmond Tutu was returned to his wife yesterday, police said.

Apart from the Nobel gold medal, which the former archbishop of Cape Town won in 1984, electrical goods including two television sets and a DVD player, jewelry and other awards stolen from the house were returned to his wife, Leah, police said.

Five men — ages 21 to 39 — were charged Tuesday with theft and the illegal possession of stolen goods taken during the burglary of the cleric's home.

SOMALIA

Islamist fighters offered pardon

MOGADISHU — Somalia's government yesterday proposed to pardon Islamist militias that have been fighting authorities for months and release former fighters from jail, officials said.

The Cabinet met yesterday and decided to extend "an olive branch to the former Islamic Courts militias, other anti-government militias and the opposition politicians as well," a government spokesman said.

Meanwhile, African Union peacekeepers said they had destroyed about 4 tons of ammunition, mines and grenades discovered during several raids in the Somali capital.

GUATEMALA

Mob kills, burns organ theft suspects

CAMOTAN — Thousands of angry Guatemalans beat a woman to death and set another on fire on suspicion they killed a girl and stole her organs to sell them, police said yesterday.

Mishel Diaz, 9, disappeared from her home in Camotan, a town near the border with Honduras, on Thursday. Her mutilated body was discovered a day later abandoned on a dirt track.

An arm was cut off, her eyes gouged out and body carved up, with the skin on her chest removed in what looked like an attempt to steal her heart and kidneys, said town police Chief Enrique Lemus.

From wire dispatches and staff reports