- The Washington Times - Tuesday, March 12, 2002

Sierra Leone rebel appears in court
FREETOWN, Sierra Leone Under rigid security, Sierra Leone's feared rebel leader made a brief court appearance yesterday in the killing of 19 persons who were demonstrating in front of his house.
Looking frail, Foday Sankoh was led into the courtroom in handcuffs for the 35-minute hearing. He did not address the court. The case was adjourned until Monday.
Sierra Leone has been devastated by the war, which began in 1991 when Mr. Sankoh launched a campaign to overthrow the government and gain control of the country's lucrative diamond mines.

Standoff hostages safe in Amsterdam
AMSTERDAM A gunman grabbed as many as 18 hostages as they were arriving for work yesterday in the lobby of the tallest building in the Dutch capital, then shot and killed himself after a seven-hour siege.
All the hostages were freed unharmed, along with more than 200 people trapped in their offices. The gunman's identity was not released.
District Attorney Leo de Wit described the gunman as "mentally confused" and said he shot himself twice in the head.

U.S. sends drones to the Philippines
ZAMBOANGA, Philippines The U.S. military has shipped unmanned spy planes to the Philippines to take part in anti-terrorism training exercises aimed at wiping out a group holding two Americans, officials said yesterday.
The Gnat UAVs which are similar to the Predator drones being used in Afghanistan would give "that extra edge" to the Philippine military, said Maj. Cynthia Teramae, spokeswoman for the U.S. contingent.
The UAVs are for surveillance and intelligence gathering during the six-month exercise in this southern port city and on nearby Basilan island, Maj. Teramae said.

Kosovo witness tells of refugees' exodus
THE HAGUE Testifying about mass expulsions by Slobodan Milosevic's troops, a Kosovo Turk told the U.N. war-crimes tribunal yesterday his village was forced to ferry thousands of ethnic-Albanian refugees to the Albanian border.
Saqir Thac, 48, said within days of the start of the air war by NATO against Yugoslavia in 1999, his "calm and quiet" village of Mamusa in Kosovo's southwest was overwhelmed by 30,000 refugees. He said the village, mostly populated by ethnic Turks, normally had a population of about 6,000.
On March 27, a few days after the NATO bombing began, Serbian troops rolled in with tanks and ordered everyone to assemble in the village center. The villagers were told to bring out their trucks and drive the refugees to the border.

Pakistan fires on Indian plane
ISLAMABAD, Pakistan Pakistani troops fired on an Indian plane that strayed into Pakistan's airspace, a government spokesman said yesterday.
The plane returned to Indian airspace after the incident, Maj. Gen. Rashid Qureshi said, without giving the location or the date. An aide to Gen. Qureshi said the incident took place two weeks ago.

Vajpayee promises to stop Hindu prayers
NEW DELHI Indian Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee, aiming to contain Hindu-Muslim bloodshed, pledged yesterday to stop hard-line Hindus from holding a prayer ceremony at the flash-point holy site of Ayodhya if a court rules against it.
Mr. Vajpayee told Parliament his government is determined to keep the peace at Ayodhya, where Hindus plan to hold a prayer ceremony on Friday next to the site of a razed mosque.
The ceremony would be to bless plans for a temple that the militant Hindus want to build on top of or next to the razed mosque.


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