- The Washington Times - Saturday, February 9, 2002

Emergency in Liberia after reports of clashes

MONROVIA, Liberia President Charles Taylor declared a state of emergency yesterday after reports of fighting between government and rebel forces on the outskirts of the capital. Officials said thousands of civilians had fled the area.

Information Minister Reginald Goodridge said government forces repelled a rebel attack Thursday on Klay Junction, a town about 25 miles north of Monrovia.

Rebels have been waging a low-level insurrection in northern Liberia for more than two years, but it was the first time fighting was reported near the capital, which was ravaged in a civil war from 1989 to 1996.

Nigerian troops patrol city after riots

KANO, Nigeria Troops patrolled the tense northern Nigerian city of Kano after Muslim prayers yesterday to prevent any reprisals of the ethnic clashes that left 100 dead in the south.

Fighting erupted over the weekend in the southern city of Lagos, Nigeria's biggest, between local Yorubas and Hausas from the north.

U.S. asks Cuba for more than 'charm offensive'

HAVANA Characterizing Cuba's current friendliness toward Americans as a "charm offensive" aimed at changing U.S. policy, the top American diplomat in Havana said Thursday that the communist island must also embrace democracy and human rights if it expects an end to restrictions on trade and travel.

"What happens if you give a lot of money to the Cuban government and it doesn't change?" asked Vicki Huddleston, chief of the U.S. Interests Section, the American mission here. "Then you find out you are just supporting Fidelismo," she said, using a term that signifies support for President Fidel Castro.

A new, less strident tone from Havana toward Washington was evident immediately after the September 11 attacks.

Iran's Rafsanjani warns U.S. of 'bloody' war

TEHRAN Influential former Iranian President Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani warned the United States yesterday it would face a "bloody quagmire" if it decided to attack his country.

"If America attacks Iran, it will be stuck in such a quagmire that it will find it hard to get out," Mr. Rafsanjani told worshippers at prayers yesterday in Tehran.

"America will have the choice to enter Iran, but not the choice to leave," he said to chants of "Death to America" and "Death to Israel."

It was the harshest warning to the United States from Iran since President Bush accused the Islamic republic, along with Iraq and North Korea, of being an "axis of evil."

Although not an elected official, Mr. Rafsanjani is a top aide to supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and chairman of the Expediency Council, which decides on strategic policies.

Helicopter landing in Chechnya spurs alarm

VLADIKAVKAZ, Russia A Russian military helicopter made an emergency landing in Chechnya yesterday, raising alarm in the Kremlin, as it follows a series of crashes in the breakaway republic that has killed at least 21 persons in two weeks.

The Mi-8 helicopter, flying from Russia's military base at Khankala to Vladikavkaz in the neighboring republic of Ingushetia, made an emergency landing after its crew suspected engine trouble. It landed safely and no one was hurt, a Kremlin spokesman said.

Another Mi-8 crashed Thursday, killing seven passengers and badly injuring three crewmen.

Passport control in blink of an eye?

LONDON Air passengers can now go through passport control at London Heathrow Airport quite literally in the blink of an eye.

Pioneering technology introduced yesterday uses iris recognition where the unique patterns of a person's iris are studied to speed through arrivals into the country after lengthy flights.

The five-month-long trial has been designed to allow expedited entry to up to 2,000 passengers who travel frequently as visitors to Britain with British Airways and Virgin Atlantic.

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