- The Washington Times - Thursday, May 18, 2000

Demands increased for German hostage

JOLO, Philippines Islamic rebels are asking $2 million in ransom for an ailing German woman who is just one of their 19 foreign hostages a demand Philippine negotiators have rejected, officials said yesterday.

Foreign Secretary Domingo Siazon said the Abu Sayyaf captors had increased their demand from the $1 million previously asked for the safe release of 57-year-old German Renate Wallert, who has high blood pressure.

The hostages three Germans, two French citizens, two South Africans, two Finns, a Lebanese, nine Malaysians and two Filipinos were abducted on April 23 from Sipadan Island, a Malaysian diving resort. They were then taken to the Philippine island of Jolo.

Iran imprisons five for shooting reformer

TEHRAN An Iranian court jailed five men yesterday for up to 15 years for the attempted assassination of leading reformer Saeed Hajjarian, the official news agency IRNA reported.

It said the revolutionary court sentenced Saeed Asgar, a chemistry student who shot and seriously wounded Mr. Hajjarian in the March attack, to 15 years in jail for endangering national security.

An accomplice who drove a motorcycle used in the gangland-style shooting was jailed for 10 years, while three others received between three and seven years.

Populist leads in Dominican polls

SANTO DOMINGO, Dominican Republic Populist opposition leader Hipolito Mejia was on the verge of receiving the majority needed to avoid a runoff as vote counting in the Dominican presidential election neared an end yesterday,.

As of noon yesterday, with 97 percent of polling stations counted, Danilo Medina of the incumbent Dominican Liberation Party had mustered only 24.8 percent, compared with Mr. Mejia's 49.9 percent.

"This is a stab at the current politicians," said the Rev. Rogelio Cruz, a well-known Roman Catholic priest and activist who works in the capital's poor neighborhoods.

"Although the image [they] are selling abroad is of prosperity, the people are not living in prosperity."

Teen pleads guilty to computer crime

MONTREAL A Montreal teen-ager has pleaded guilty to hacking into the computer systems of several Canadian and foreign institutions, including NASA, Harvard University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

The court heard Tuesday that the teen had been given a computer at age 14, and that by age 15 he had dropped out of school and was living with his father and stepmother. He was spending 10 to 15 hours a day on line and hacking into a variety of computer systems, using the computer moniker Jon or J0n.

The court plea came a month after another Montreal teen-ager, known by the nickname Mafiaboy, was arrested and charged with mischief for paralyzing CNN World Wide Web sites for four hours.

Death toll at 18 in Dutch blast

ENSCHEDE, Netherlands The confirmed death toll from an explosion at a Dutch warehouse loaded with fireworks rose to 18 yesterday with the discovery of two more bodies, officials said.

Authorities, who expect the toll to reach 20, also revised upward the number of injured from more than 600 to nearly 950, based on new information received from local doctors. Forty-four persons are still hospitalized, six in intensive care.

U.S. Marines hurt in Kenya accident

NAIROBI, Kenya Four U.S. Marines were seriously injured when a military vehicle they were in was involved in an accident near the Kenyan coastal town of Malindi, the Marine Corps said yesterday.

A Marine officer told Reuters news agency the four had been treated in the intensive care unit of a hospital in Mombasa, further south.

He said three were in serious condition, while the fourth was critical.

Based on wire dispatches and staff reports.

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