- The Washington Times - Saturday, April 27, 2002

2 more North Koreans seek asylum in Beijing

BEIJING Two North Korean refugees entered a U.S. Embassy compound in Beijing yesterday and have been accepted for resettlement "in a third country," a U.S. official said.

The incident occurred at the same time as a third North Korean refugee was holed up in the German Embassy in Beijing, hoping for permission to leave China.

German Embassy officials said diplomats were holding "intensive discussions" with China on the North Koreans' asylum request.

Northern Afghan leader to free prisoners

SHIBERGAN, Afghanistan Gen. Abdul Rashid Dostum, the main power broker in northern Afghanistan, yesterday pledged to release hundreds of prisoners, including Pakistanis, in what would be the largest clemency yet from the overcrowded, disease-ridden Shibergan prison.

Gen. Dostum told the Associated Press that Afghan authorities were looking at releasing, in the next few days, younger, older and ailing prisoners, as well as "those who can prove they were not involved" in crimes. The action comes after a plea from interim Afghan leader Hamid Karzai. Gen. Dostum is Mr. Karzai's special envoy in the north and a deputy defense minister.

The U.N. special representative to Afghanistan, Lakhdar Brahimi, also urged Gen. Dostum to release some of the more than 800 Pakistanis being held at the prison.

Maoists plant bomb on Nepal king's route

KATMANDU, Nepal Nepal's King Gyanendra escaped a brush with death when security forces detected two bombs planted by Maoists guerrillas on his convoy route, officials said yesterday.

Junior Home Minister Devendra Raj Kandel said security forces late Thursday spotted and defused the bombs near the U.S. Embassy on a Katmandu road along which the king was to travel.

The tiny Himalayan kingdom is still reeling from the June massacre of popular King Birendra and other royal family members by Crown Prince Dipendra, who later shot himself.

The rebel war to oust the constitutional monarchy and replace it with a one-party communist state has intensified since then.

Greek court sentences plane spotters for photos

KALAMATA, Greece Fourteen British and Dutch plane spotters were convicted on misdemeanor espionage charges yesterday and sentenced to prison for taking photos during an air show at a military base.

But Judge Fotoula Fotopoulou said the sentences of one to five years in prison would be suspended if the plane spotters appealed the decision and they would be allowed to return home. All 14 began the appeals process and are expected to leave Greece today.

The plane spotters were arrested last November and spent five weeks in prison after they were caught taking photos during an air show at an air base in this southern port city, about 150 miles southwest of Athens.

The plane spotters insisted they were only engaging in an innocent pastime when they took notes about military aircraft.

Pakistan says 2 killed in Kashmir arms firing

MUZAFFARABAD, Pakistan Indian troops fired mortars and small arms across a tense Line of Control in disputed Kashmir for the second straight day yesterday, killing two civilians on the Pakistani side, police said.

They said a man and a woman also civilians were wounded in firing that targeted six villages in Pakistan-ruled Kashmir for more than an hour.

On Thursday, police in the area said one man was killed and 11 were wounded by Indian mortar and machine-gun fire.

Residents said Pakistani troops also fired into the Indian sector in retaliation yesterday, but there was no immediate report of casualties on the other side.

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