- The Washington Times - Tuesday, December 18, 2001

Rival factions clash in northern Nigeria

KANO, Nigeria At least nine persons were killed over the weekend in clashes between rival factions in this northern Nigerian city, witnesses said.

Despite a large deployment of armed soldiers and police, rival factions known as "Yandaba" engaged in clashes in "old" Kano, on the outskirts of the Muslim-dominated city, the witnesses said.

The security forces were deployed in strategic districts as Muslims marked Eid al-Fitr, or the end of the holy fasting month of Ramadan. They were still in place yesterday afternoon, residents said.

N. Ireland militias get 5 years to disarm

LONDON The British government yesterday revealed plans to give paramilitary groups in Northern Ireland another five years to give up their weapons.

The British minister responsible for the province, John Reid, told Parliament that the government was initially proposing to extend by a year amnesty given to paramilitary groups now in negotiations with the international disarmament commission headed by Canadian Gen. John de Chastelain.

The amnesty, intended to allow armed groups to disarm without being arrested for possessing such weapons, is to end on Feb. 26, 2002.

Baltic states await NATO invitation

PRAGUE The three Baltic states of Estonia, Lithuania and Latvia, together with Slovenia and Slovakia, could be asked to join NATO at its next summit in Prague in November 2002, Czech President Vaclav Havel said yesterday.

During a press conference with his Polish counterpart, Alexander Kwasniewski, Mr. Havel said he had "no doubt" the invitations would be offered.

The Czech and Polish leaders also urged that Russian President Vladimir Putin be invited to the Prague summit, in light of "new relations" between Moscow and the Atlantic alliance since the September 11 terrorist attacks in New York and Washington.

3 more bodies taken from Kursk

MOSCOW Three more bodies have been recovered from the wreck of the Russian Kursk submarine, bringing the total number retrieved to 83, a military prosecutor said yesterday.

The bodies were taken out of the third section of the nuclear vessel, according to Vladimir Mulov, military prosecutor for Russia's Northern Fleet, as quoted by the Interfax news agency.

Sixty-five of the 83 bodies now recovered have so far been identified.

Oveido extradition to Paraguay denied

BRASILIA, Brazil The country's highest court yesterday rejected Paraguay's petition to extradite former army chief Lino Oviedo, who is wanted on charges of masterminding the 1999 assassination of Paraguayan Vice President Luis Maria Argana.

Brazil's Supreme Court judges denied the request on the grounds that it was "politically motivated," said a court spokesman. The Paraguayan government had wanted the charismatic former general to stand trial for his suspected role in Mr. Argana's assassination.

Mr. Oviedo also led a failed 1996 coup attempt in Paraguay against President Juan Carlos Wasmosy for which he had been sentenced to 10 years in prison.

Argentina squeezing budget for cuts

BUENOS AIRES Facing the prospect of default, Argentina's government yesterday worked to wring more spending cuts from its 2001 budget, hoping to persuade the International Monetary Fund to resume its aid payments.

The IMF earlier this month held back $1.3 billion after Argentina failed to meet budget deficit targets. With its revenue shrinking, the government is seeking to regain investor confidence by presenting a more austere budget.

Economy Minister Domingo Cavallo wants to slash more than $8 billion in spending, from $49 billion to $41 billion. But the move has angered some opposition leaders in Congress, already wary of unpopular austerity measures.

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