- The Washington Times - Friday, June 9, 2000

Rwanda, Uganda continue fighting

KISANGANI, Congo Ugandan and Rwandan troops fought late into the night in the Congolese city of Kisangani, hours after the former allies had promised to halt four days of artillery duels that have killed dozens of civilians.

The United Nations said it had brokered a cease-fire Thursday but the rival armies paid it no mind, trading artillery fire and fighting fierce street battles near the city center hours after they were supposed to silence their guns.

At least 50 persons have been killed and scores more wounded since fighting erupted on Monday morning with indiscriminate shelling preventing many of the wounded from venturing out to seek medical attention.

An estimated 1.7 million people have died as a direct or indirect result of fighting in eastern Congo over the past 22 months, the U.S.-based International Refugee Committee reported Thursday.

Putin plans visit to North Korea

TOKYO North Korea announced Thursday that Russian President Vladimir Putin soon would visit Pyongyang at the invitation of leader Kim Jong-il.

"Vladimir Vladimirovich Putin, president and supreme commander of the armed forces of the Russian Federation, will shortly visit the Democratic People's Republic of Korea at the invitation of Kim Jong-il, chairman of the DPRK national defense commission and supreme commander of the Korean people's army," said the state-run Korean Central News Agency monitored here.

Nigerians strike over oil prices

LAGOS, Nigeria Rioting brought Lagos, Nigeria's commercial capital, to a standstill Thursday after last-ditch talks failed to avert a nationwide strike touched off by a 50 percent increase in fuel prices.

Protesting youths barricaded roads and attacked commuter buses, halting traffic for several hours. Many people abandoned their vehicles and made their way on foot.

Traffic was similarly paralyzed in the southern cities of Abeokuta, Ibadan and Benin City. Schools, offices and most banks were closed in major cities across Nigeria, Africa's most populous nation. Airports also shut down, Radio Nigeria reported.

President Olusegun Obasanjo says the government can no longer afford the $2 billion annual subsidy required to keep fuel prices down.

Montenegro backers of reforms rally

PODGORICA, Yugoslavia More than 15,000 supporters of Montenegro's reformist President Milo Djukanovic gathered late Thursday for the final rally of his coalition "To Live Better" in Podgorica ahead of an early vote Sunday for the capital's local council.

Hundreds of people, mostly young, drove around the town hours ahead of the rally, waving party and Montenegrin flags, with dozens packing the main square in Podgorica waiting for political leaders to show up.

Mr. Djukanovic, Montenegrin Prime Minister Filip Vujanovic and other officials of his Democratic Party of Socialists and its allies, the People's Party and Social Democratic Party, were present at the rally.

Central American environment imperiled

GUATEMALA CITY Forest fires, desertification and deforestation threaten the environment in Guatemala, which with the rest of Central America is experiencing an alarming degradation, a United Nations report warned Thursday

"Guatemala is experiencing serious problems of desertification and deforestation due to forest fires, and requires integral environmental management," said Jose Luis de Franco, adviser for the U.N. Environment Program.

Guatemala was among 15 Latin American countries in the Global Environmental Outlook study begun in 1995 by a network of public and private research centers.

Peacekeeping backed in Sierra Leone

NEW YORK Britain circulated a U.N. Security Council resolution yesterday to strengthen the U.N. peacekeeping force in Sierra Leone, bring rebel leader Foday Sankoh to trial and ban the import of diamonds from the civil-war-torn country unless authorized by its government.

The draft, invoking the mandatory provisions of the U.N. Charter, is subject to amendment in the course of council consultations.

It would condemn in "the strongest terms the armed attacks perpetrated" by the rebel Revolutionary United Front since early May and demand the RUF immediately and unconditionally halt all hostile activities.

• From wire dispatches and staff reports

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