Wednesday, January 17, 2001

11 killed as militants attack Kashmir airport

SRINAGAR, India Eleven persons were killed and a dozen wounded yesterday in a gunbattle that erupted after separatist militants tried to storm the high-security airport at Srinagar in Indian Kashmir, police said.

Six of the dead were guerrillas who, dressed in police uniforms, carried out the attack at the outer gate of the airport compound outside the summer capital of Jammu and Kashmir.

The Pakistan-based militant group Lashkar-e-Taiba, one of several organizations fighting Indian rule in the disputed Himalayan territory, said a six-member fidayeen or suicide squad was responsible for the attack.

The attack threw into doubt a tentative Indian bid to bring peace to the Himalayan region.

Pinochet fit for trial, medical tests hint

SANTIAGO, Chile Tests showed Gen. Augusto Pinochet suffers from a mild form of dementia, newspapers reported yesterday a diagnosis prosecutors said means the former Chilean dictator is fit to stand trial.

Judge Juan Guzman, who wants to try the general on homicide charges, ordered the 85-year-old to submit to a series of tests to determine whether he is healthy enough.

Newspapers said Gen. Pinochet suffers from “a mild vascular dementia” caused by several minor strokes he has suffered in recent years.

Sierra Leonean youths face war-crime trial

NEW YORK Arguing against proposals from the U.N. Security Council, Secretary-General Kofi Annan said yesterday child soldiers and peacekeepers should be subject to war-crimes prosecutions in Sierra Leone.

And he also told the council that its plans for voluntary financing were unrealistic for a proposed tribunal that is to try people charged with crimes against humanity, war crimes and other serious violations of international humanitarian law during the West African country’s decade-old civil war.

Rebels from the Revolutionary United Front recruited an estimated 5,400 children. Many of them were abducted or drugged into submission. They joined fighters in raping, killing and chopping off limbs of thousands of men, women and children.

Kostunica criticized for tribunal snub

The outgoing Clinton administration yesterday kept out of a dispute over Yugoslav President Vojislav Kostunica’s failure to find time to meet chief U.N. prosecutor Carla del Ponte, saying it was up to Belgrade and her tribunal in The Hague to schedule talks.

But leading lawmakers in Congress who will influence President-elect George W. Bush when he decides whether Belgrade still qualifies for crucial U.S. aid after March 31 said Mr. Kostunica’s stance sent the wrong signals.

“We believe that the timing of specific discussions between Yugoslav officials and war crimes tribunal officials is really a matter for them to work out among themselves,” said a State Department official, speaking on the condition of anonymity.

Violent crimes rise sharply in Britain

LONDON British crime figures published yesterday revealed a sharp increase in violent crime and robberies, despite a Labor government claim it would get tough with criminals.

The numbers, a possible headache for the government ahead of an expected May election, show incidents of violent crime jumped by 8 percent and robberies soared by 21 percent between October 1999 and September 2000.

The surge follows a 19 percent rise in violent crime between 1998 and 1999. In contrast, sexual offenses fell 0.4 percent, the first fall for five years. Vehicle theft fell 7 percent and burglary fell 8 percent the seventh consecutive fall.

Swedish artists take stand against racism

STOCKHOLM Sweden’s top artists gathered last night to sing out against what they fear is a growing trend of racism and intolerance in their country.

Stars ranging from the internationally famous Eagle-Eye Cherry to local personality Thomas Di Leva performed at Stockholm’s landmark Globe Arena for the gala, called “Artists Against Nazis.”

The concert was a prelude to a Jan. 29-30 international conference against intolerance, which will be attended by U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan.

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