- The Washington Times - Monday, January 1, 2001

Iran reformers want dissident released

TEHRAN, Iran Iran's leading reformist student group called yesterday for the release of a prominent member who has been jailed for two weeks on charges of insulting Iran's leader.
Ali Afshari, a leader of the Office for Fostering Unity group, has been under arrest since Dec. 17, the student group said.
He is being held in solitary confinement at Tehran's notorious Evin prison, said Akbar Atri and Reza Hojjati, two of the group's leaders. They threatened public protests if he is not freed.

China police arrest Falun demonstrators

BEIJING Chinese police today quashed protests by followers of the banned Falun Gong spiritual movement in Beijing's Tiananmen Square, detaining dozens of people.
Small groups of mostly female and middle-aged Falun Gong practitioners were dragged away by police on New Year's morning after they tried to meditate or defiantly flash yellow cloth banners to protest against an 18-month-old ban on the movement, witnesses said.
In a scene repeated at Tiananmen on every major holiday since mid-1999, hundreds of uniformed and plain-clothed police officers scoured the plaza in the heart of Beijing amid throngs of holiday tourists, pouncing on protesters and dragging them away.

Japan family murdered in their home

TOKYO A family of four was found stabbed to death in their Tokyo home, police said yesterday, the latest in a series of violent crimes that have stunned this usually placid nation.
A 44-year-old man was discovered on the first floor of the house with cuts on his neck and body, a spokesman for the Tokyo Metropolitan Police said on the condition of anonymity.
The man's wife, 8-year-old daughter and 6-year-old son were found stabbed to death on the second floor, he added.
Last week, two gunmen fired on a car transporting cash in Tokyo, killing one man and taking off with about $400,000. Hours later, two teen-agers were arrested in the fatal stabbing of a taxi driver.

Illness strikes Princess Margaret

LONDON Princess Margaret is sick and has undergone medical tests, Buckingham Palace said last night.
Princess Margaret, 70, who is the sister of Queen Elizabeth II, was absent from the royal family's Christmas Eve and Christmas Day church services.
The princess had been visited by a doctor Saturday and again yesterday, said a palace spokesman, speaking on the condition of anonymity. The palace did not comment on the nature of the illness or the treatment.
Princess Margaret suffered serious burns to her legs and feet in an accident in the Caribbean in 1999. The previous year, she suffered a stroke.

Plenty of oil waits beneath Kuwait

KUWAIT CITY Kuwait has enough oil to pump roughly 2 million barrels a day for the next 132 years before its vast reserves run dry, according to a study published yesterday.
Kuwait's reserves were estimated at 96.5 billion barrels, or 10.8 percent of world reserves, in a study by the state-owned Kuwait Institute for Scientific Research that was reported by Al-Watan daily.
Kuwait's economy is dependent on oil, but the state has some $50 billion in foreign investments meant to provide for future generations when oil dries out.

Philippines on edge after bombings

MANILA Philippine authorities combed wreckage, drew a composite sketch and manned a tip hot line yesterday as they searched for suspects in five explosions that killed at least 14 persons and left the nation on edge.
Jittery residents in Manila celebrated a subdued New Year's Eve amid a heavy police presence, grim media images of mangled bodies and the fear of more attacks. Embattled President Joseph Estrada faced growing anger from opposition groups.
No one has claimed responsibility for Saturday's explosions, which hit a train, a bus, a gas station, a park and Manila's international airport. More than 100 people were injured.

Fireworks display kills 2, injures 63

SANTIAGO, Chile Two persons died and another 63 suffered burns in an explosion at a New Year's fireworks display in a poor neighborhood of the Chilean capital, officials said yesterday.

Around 5,000 revelers were watching the display in the western suburb of Maipu when part of it ignited prematurely and exploded, showering a section of the crowd with burning material, TV images of amateur video showed.

Police named the dead as Elizabeth Suazo Ponce, 22, and her niece Vania Marques Suazo. Both died from serious burns.

Hospitals in the suburb treated another 63 persons for serious to slight burns stemming from the explosion, health officials said.

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