- The Washington Times - Tuesday, June 5, 2001

Kremlin acknowledges Chechen disappearances
MOSCOW — A Kremlin human rights official conceded yesterday that hundreds of Chechens have disappeared during the war in Chechnya, and called for stronger oversight over civilians detained by the army.
Russian forces routinely seize Chechens from the streets during sweeps for suspected insurgents, and some of the detainees have later been found dead. Human rights groups accuse Russian forces of torture and summary executions of detained civilians.
President Vladimir Putins commissioner for human rights in Chechnya, Vladimir Kalamanov, said 930 persons officially had been reported missing since the start of Russias military campaign in August 1999.
Investigators have located 366 of the missing persons, most of them in Russian detention, and 18 more have been found dead, Mr. Kalamanov said.

Poland exhumes victims of 1941 massacre

WARSAW — Polish prosecutors found the remains of roughly 200 victims of a 1941 massacre of Jews in a small town in eastern Poland during a contested exhumation that ended yesterday, officials said.
The figure was far less than the 1,600 Jews that Polish-born historian Jan Gross claimed were killed in his book, "Neighbors," published last year.
The exhumation, criticized by Jewish groups as desecrating the dead, was initiated by Polands National Remembrance Institute, a state body probing war crimes, after the book blamed local Polish townsfolk in Jedwabne for conducting the massacre.
"We cannot say how many people were killed in Jedwabne or whether there are any other graves," the institutes top prosecutor, Witold Kulesza, said. "We saw bones and ashes of roughly 200 people."

Rebels withdrawing from Congo

LUSAKA, Zambia — A Congolese rebel group has begun withdrawing troops from battle zones in northwestern Congo, U.N. officials monitoring the cease-fire said yesterday.
The Congolese Liberation Fronts nine-mile withdrawal from former battle zones follows the deployment of military observers and humanitarian agencies in five areas under its control.
Congos war erupted in August 1998 when Rwanda, Uganda and their Congolese rebel allies took up arms against then-President Laurent Kabila — accusing him of backing Rwandan and Ugandan rebels who threatened their security. Zimbabwe, Angola and Namibia backed Mr. Kabila with thousands of troops and military hardware.

Fire kills children in Chinese kindergarten

BEIJING —Thirteen children aged between 3 and 4 were killed when a fire swept through a kindergarten in southeastern China today, the official Xinhua news agency reported.
The fire broke out just after midnight in a dormitory at a kindergarten in Nanchang, the capital of Jiangxi province, said the report.
Xinhua said the fire was caused by burning mosquito coils, which ignited bedding in the dormitory at the kindergarten.

Vatican says 'no' to online confessions

VATICAN CITY — You can book a holiday, order your weekly food shopping or simply buy a book on the Internet, but you will never have your sins forgiven online, the Vatican said yesterday.
A top Vatican official told Italian media the Roman Catholic Church would rule out giving confessions over the Internet in a document to be issued by the Pontifical Council for Social Communication.
"The Internet is a wonderful instrument for evangelization and pastoral service, but it will never be possible to confess online," Archbishop John Foley, the president of the special council, was quoted as saying.
He said that the document would say confession must always be carried out within the sacramental context of face-to-face meetings.


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