- The Washington Times - Sunday, April 28, 2002

Top Pakistani court upholds referendum
ISLAMABAD, Pakistan Pakistan's Supreme Court rejected yesterday an opposition plea to halt a referendum Tuesday on extending President Pervez Musharraf's rule for five years.
The verdict strengthened Gen. Musharraf's hand ahead of the vote, even though the result was never in doubt, political analysts said.
The nine-judge Supreme Court bench rejected three petitions from opposition parties and a lawyers' association, which had argued the referendum was unconstitutional.
Gen. Musharraf, who seized power in a bloodless coup in October 1999, will ask the nation to grant him five more years as president to continue his economic, political and social changes, something rejected by all the main opposition parties.

Philippine rebels free TV reporter
ZAMBOANGA, Philippines A kidnapped Philippine television reporter, whose guides were beheaded as she tried to contact Muslim guerrillas linked to al Qaeda, was freed yesterday after nearly 100 days in captivity.
"If you only knew what I went through, you would say this is a miracle by the grace of God. God did not desert me,'' Arlyn de la Cruz told reporters, bursting into tears and burying her face in her hands after regaining freedom.
Ms. de la Cruz, who works for the Net25 television station, had been missing since Jan. 19. She was traveling in the interior hills of Jolo, about 500 miles south of Manila, trying to interview Khadaffi Janjalani, leader of Abu Sayyaf guerrillas, when she was abducted.

3 Pakistanis get death sentences
NEW DELHI An Indian court sentenced three Pakistani Islamic militants to death yesterday for kidnapping four Westerners and murdering a local policeman in 1994.
Judge S.N. Dhingra, of a New Delhi city court, said the harsh sentence was a warning to all Pakistani "terrorists."
Indian police say the three were members of the banned Islamic guerrilla group, Harkat ul-Ansar, which is fighting Indian forces in disputed Kashmir.
They kidnapped three Britons and one American from Delhi in 1994. Indian police rescued the hostages in neighboring Uttar Pradesh state, but one policeman was killed in the operation.
Ahmed Omar Saeed, a British-born Islamic extremist facing trial in Pakistan for the abduction and murder of American reporter Daniel Pearl, was also detained and charged for his suspected involvement in the kidnappings.
India dropped charges against Saeed and four other Islamic militants in a swap for 130 passengers of an Indian Airlines plane that was hijacked to Afghanistan in 1999.

South African official Steve Tshwete dies
PRETORIA, South Africa Steve Tshwete, South Africa's security minister and a leading figure in the fight against apartheid, has died, the ruling party said yesterday. He was 64.
Mr. Tshwete was hospitalized April 9 for severe back pain. He contracted pneumonia, experienced gradual kidney failure and died late Friday night, said Smuts Ngonyama, a spokesman for the African National Congress.
He was born in 1938 in King Williams Town in eastern South Africa and became involved in politics from an early age. After leaving school, Mr. Tshwete joined the ANC's struggle to overthrow South Africa's apartheid regime.

Thai troops clash with forces from Burma
BANGKOK, Thailand Thai troops, supported by helicopter gunships, clashed with ethnic Wa guerrillas from Burma after two of the fighters were captured inside Thailand. Ten Wa soldiers were killed in the fighting, local media reported yesterday.
Fighting broke out Friday, after the two men were picked up about 300 yards inside Chiang Rai province in northern Thailand, Thai army officer Lt. Col. Peranetr Kettem said.
The United Wa State Army has been branded by the U.S. government as a major drug-producing and trafficking group in Southeast Asia.

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