India says militants tried to cross border
JAMMU, India India’s army yesterday said Pakistani fighters from an Islamic militant group made a major attempt to cross into the Indian-held portion of Kashmir.
The claim is likely to heighten tension between India and Pakistan, which reinforced troops along their border after a December attack on the Indian Parliament by militants. Indian Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee said yesterday there are no plans to pull forces back.
An Indian army spokesman said it was the “first major attempt by Pakistan to send infiltrators into the Indian side” since Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf announced a crackdown on militant groups on Jan. 12.
There was no immediate reaction from Pakistan.
Afghan currency dips, may be abandoned
KABUL, Afghanistan Frantic money-changers brought near-chaos to Kabul markets yesterday, bargaining furiously as Afghanistan’s currency plunged amid fears that it may be scrapped.
The tumble 36,000 afghanis were being offered for one dollar, a 25 percent drop in value came a day after an International Monetary Fund official said Afghanistan may have to abandon the currency and adopt the dollar temporarily as it tries to rebuild its war-shattered economy.
Fasting, suicide threat end at Australia camp
WOOMERA, Australia Hundreds of detained asylum seekers ended a two-week hunger strike yesterday and 11 teen-agers withdrew a suicide threat after Australian government negotiators struck a deal with the protesters, officials said.
“We’ve had a real breakthrough. The Afghan hunger strikers are no longer on hunger strike,” said Ray Funnell, a member of the panel sent to negotiate with the more than 200 mainly Afghan asylum seekers at the isolated Woomera detention center.
He also said the 11 teen-agers who had sworn a suicide pact at the weekend abandoned a 5 p.m. deadline yesterday to be taken out of the camp.
Diplomat says Suu Kyi met military leader
RANGOON, Burma Opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi, who has been holding reconciliation talks with Burma’s ruling military, secretly met with the junta leader last week, a diplomat said yesterday.
Mrs. Suu Kyi met on Jan. 22 with senior Gen. Than Shwe, the chairman of the State Peace and Development Council, as the ruling junta calls itself, he said. Neither the military nor officials from Mrs. Suu Kyi’s party confirmed the meeting.
Baby’s body washed with dirty linen
LONDON The body of a prematurely born baby was accidentally thrown into a London hospital linen basket and washed in boiling water at an industrial laundry, officials said yesterday.
The corpse of James Fernandez, who died soon after being born 17 weeks early, was taken to the hospital mortuary but was lost in piles of soiled sheets and shrouds.
EU leader opposes break with Arafat
Javier Solana, the Spanish diplomat who is the European Union’s top foreign-policy official, advised Secretary of State Colin L. Powell yesterday not to cut off Yasser Arafat’s Palestinian Authority because of terror attacks on Israel.
Mr. Solana told reporters after seeing Mr. Powell that the United States and the Europeans should keep using pressure to curb terrorism.
Syria hits search by U.S. Navy
DAMASCUS, Syria Syria yesterday demanded that Washington explain the U.S. Navy’s search of two Syrian-registered merchant ships in its anti-terror campaign, blasting the operation as “an act of piracy.”
The U.S. Sixth Fleet on Sunday searched the ships, which it said had displayed “suspicious behavior,” off the coast of Cyprus, but later said it had found nothing suspicious on board.