- The Washington Times - Monday, May 26, 2008

COLOMBIA

Rebels confirm leader’s death

BOGOTA — The legendary leader of Latin America’s most powerful insurgency, Manuel “Sureshot” Marulanda, died of a heart attack in March, a senior guerrilla commander confirmed yesterday.

Marulanda, thought to be 78, died “in the arms of his companion, surrounded by bodyguards and all the units who comprised his security,” rebel commander Timoleon Jimenez said in a video broadcast by the Venezuela-based Telesur network. He said Marulanda’s death came after a short illness, which he did not describe.

The Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or FARC, is now led by its chief ideologist, Alfonso Cano. Marulanda died March 26, he said, without specifying where. Colombia’s Defense Ministry, which first reported the death Saturday, gave the same date.

SOUTH AFRICA

President calls violence a ‘disgrace’

JOHANNESBURG — South Africa has been disgraced by a wave of violence against foreigners that has left at least 50 dead, President Thabo Mbeki said yesterday.

In a 10-minute nationally televised address on the state broadcaster, Mr. Mbeki said South Africans’ heads were “bowed” and called the violence an “absolute disgrace.”

“The shameful actions of a few have blemished the name of South Africa,” he said. He said South Africans should remember that their economy was built with the help of migrants from across the continent, and its neighbors had helped fight apartheid and some had died for their efforts.

Earlier yesterday, police raised from 42 to 50 the number of people killed in two weeks of anti-foreigner clashes.

PAKISTAN

Deposed justice seeks retribution

ISLAMABAD — Pakistan’s deposed chief justice said yesterday that officials who bowed to President Pervez Musharraf’s declaration of emergency rule and ouster of judges last year would be “punished.”

Former Chief Justice Iftikhar Mohammed Chaudhry made his comments in the city of Faisalabad, where thousands of lawyers and activists gathered to whip up support for a new round of protests aimed at pressuring the country’s new coalition government to restore the jurists.

Mr. Musharraf, a retired army chief who seized power in a 1999 military coup, declared emergency rule in November and ousted several dozen judges to avoid legal challenges to his rule.

Anti-Musharraf parties came to power after winning February elections, forming a coalition that promised to restore the judges. But disputes over exactly how to bring the judges back have pushed the coalition to the verge of collapse.

INDONESIA

State Department lifts travel warning

JAKARTA — The United States lifted a travel warning it had placed on Indonesia after several terrorist attacks and said security has improved in the world’s most populous Muslim nation.

The last known suicide bombing was more than 2½ years ago on Bali island.

“The government… has disrupted, arrested and prosecuted numerous terrorist elements,” U.S. Ambassador Cameron Hume said yesterday in announcing the decision to lift the warning, which was put in place after several bombs detonated in the capital, Jakarta, in 2000.

It was the twin Bali nightclubs attacks in 2002, however, that thrust Indonesia onto the front lines in the war on terrorism.

More than 240 people, most of them foreign tourists, have died in the bombings.

PHILIPPINES

Muslim rebels attack military post

MANILA — Two Muslim rebel groups, including the al Qaeda-linked Abu Sayyaf, attacked a military outpost and a convoy of troops yesterday in the southern Philippines, sparking a clash that killed two guerrillas and wounded 10 marines, the military said.

Both sides blamed each other for starting the fighting, which erupted during a withdrawal of Malaysian peacekeepers who have helped stop such violence in the past.

MALAYSIA

Police seize babies for sale

KUALA LUMPUR — Police seized four infants from a baby-trafficking ring that purchased newborns from poor mothers and sold them to childless couples, an official said yesterday.

Authorities acting on a public tip detained 23 people, including customers seeking to buy babies, during raids on an illegal abortion clinic and four homes Thursday, said a police official in southern Johor state.

The traffickers persuaded poor, unmarried women who sought abortions to deliver their babies and sell them, the official said.

Others arrested included a gynecologist and a government employee who reportedly forged identification documents for the infants, the official said.

The New Straits Times newspaper reported the syndicate paid at least $200 for each baby and sold them for up to $6,000. Ethnic Chinese babies were the most popular, it said.

VENEZUELA

Chavez opponents want TV reopened

CARACAS — Opponents of President Hugo Chavez are marching to demand the return of an opposition-sided TV station that was booted off public airwaves a year ago.

Many are still upset by Mr. Chavez’s decision not to renew the broadcast license of Radio Caracas Television, or RCTV, which had been critical of his government.

Mr. Chavez replaced the network with a state-run channel that regularly transmits pro-government propaganda. RCTV now only airs on cable.

Several thousand people marched through the capital yesterday, shouting anti-Chavez slogans and demanding RCTV’s broadcast license be returned.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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