- The Washington Times - Saturday, January 5, 2002

Four Maoist rebels killed in Nepal

KATMANDU, Nepal At least four Maoist rebels have been killed by security forces in Nepal as the leaders of seven South Asian countries gathered in the capital for a summit, officials said yesterday.

All the clashes took place in rural districts several hundred miles away from the capital Katmandu, where the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation summit is due to begin today.

Security is tight for the meeting of leaders from Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka. Authorities have already detained a number of people in Katmandu.

The rebels have been fighting for a republic state in the country since 1996 and the insurgency has so far claimed the lives of more than 2,300 people.

Kyrgyzstan to abolish capital punishment

BISHKEK, Kyrgyzstan Kyrgyz President Askar Akayev has announced that capital punishment is to be "gradually" abolished in the country by 2010, press reports said yesterday.

The president had previously held a moratorium on the death penalty in 1998 during the 50th anniversary of the Declaration of the Universal Rights of Man.

The new decree by Mr. Akayev is part of the country's human rights program for 2002 to 2010.

4 die in exchange along Kashmir control line

JAMMU, India Two Indian soldiers were killed when Pakistani troops fired on Indian positions along the line of control in Kashmir as tensions between the nuclear rivals raised concern across the world, a defense official said yesterday.

Indian defense authorities said two Pakistani border guards also were killed and some Pakistani bunkers destroyed in retaliatory fire by India near Nowshahra sector in Rajouri district.

"Pakistani troops opened unprovoked rocket, mortar and heavy machine-gun fire on Indian installations near Nowshahra sector in which two of our boys were killed," the official said.

"Our troops retaliated and in the action two Pakistani Rangers were killed and some bunkers destroyed."

Pakistani and Indian forces are facing off in the biggest military buildup along their border in nearly 15 years after the suicide attack on India's Parliament that India blames on Pakistan-based Kashmiri militants.

Central Asian villages declare independence

ALMATY, Kazakhstan Two villages on the border between the Central Asian states of Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan have declared independence in an attempt to draw attention to their uncertain status, Interfax news agency reported yesterday.

Around 500 residents of Bagys and Turkestanets villages turned out at a protest rally to declare sovereignty, electing a president and a 10-member parliament, according to Interfax.

The 2,000 mostly Kazakh villagers were said to be afraid of finding themselves citizens of Uzbekistan as a result of negotiations between the two former Soviet republics.

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