- The Washington Times - Wednesday, May 22, 2002

Armed man storms Thai parliament

BANGKOK A man dressed as a Buddhist monk was arrested today after storming Thailand's parliament with an assault rifle, taking about 30 hostages and demanding to speak with the prime minister.

Police captured the assailant, who identified himself as Sayan Chitasuro, after a one-hour standoff, during which he fired into the air once.

The incident came minutes before the 500-member lower house was to debate a no-confidence motion against 15 Cabinet members.

The man, who claimed to be from Chan Buri province bordering Cambodia, said he was arrested in 1996 for trespassing in a national park and had come to parliament to hand in a petition.

China gives in to Japan over asylum seekers

TOKYO China will release and send to the Philippines five North Korean asylum seekers who were dragged from a Japanese Consulate in northeastern China nearly two weeks ago, Japan's Kyodo news agency said today.

The two Asian neighbors have been trapped in a diplomatic dispute since Chinese guards dragged the five persons, including a tiny girl, from Japan's mission in the city of Shenyang on May 8 while Japanese diplomats stood by.

Japan has insisted that China violated diplomatic conventions by entering the consulate, but Beijing says its police were invited inside.

13 witnesses dropped in Pearl case

HYDERABAD, Pakistan Prosecutors in the trial of four Islamic radicals charged in the death of Daniel Pearl attempted yesterday to speed up the case by dismissing 13 witnesses.

The decision came as investigators sought to determine the identity of a body believed to be that of the Wall Street Journal reporter. Dismembered remains, including a severed head, were discovered Friday in a shallow grave near a blood-splattered shack where Mr. Pearl is believed to have been held.

Forensic experts obtained samples Monday from the remains to be used for DNA testing. Results are expected within a week. But an autopsy submitted to police indicated the victim was a white male, a source close to the investigation said Monday.

Earthquakes rock Egypt, Japan

CAIRO A strong earthquake centered under the eastern Mediterranean Sea shook parts of Egypt and the island of Crete late yesterday, but there were no immediate reports of casualties or damage.

Many buildings in downtown Cairo shook as the quake struck just before midnight. The quake had a preliminary magnitude of 6, officials from Egypt's National Research Institute of Astronomy and Geophysics said.

A moderately strong earthquake also jolted northern Japan early today, but there were no reports of damage or injuries. The quake, initially measured at magnitude 5.7, was centered near Kunashiri island, about 600 miles northeast of Tokyo. Russian-held Kunashiri is part of the Kuril Island chain of islands disputed by Tokyo and Moscow.

'Iron Lady' unveils her stony side

LONDON Former Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, the "Iron Lady" of British politics, gazed upon herself in marble yesterday at the official unveiling of her statue in central London's Guildhall art gallery.

Mrs. Thatcher, who has been ordered by doctors to end her exhausting round of public speeches after a series of small strokes, showed she was as feisty as ever as she revealed the eight-foot-high white marble effigy.

"It's a little larger than I thought. But that is the way to portray an ex-prime minister who is also the first woman prime minister larger than life," the diminutive doyenne of British politics said.

Sri Lanka holds talks with rebels

COLOMBO, Sri Lanka Three government representatives traveled to rebel-held territory yesterday and held Sri Lanka's first talks with Tamil Tiger guerrillas in seven years, a senior government official and the rebel radio station said.

The meeting was to discuss matters concerning a key highway that links the northern Tamil heartland with the rest of the country, paving the way for increased trade and free movement of people, the official said.

The strategic road had been closed since a government offensive in November 1999. It was reopened last month as part of a cease-fire agreement signed between the government and the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam on Feb. 22. The agreement was brokered by Norway.

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