- The Washington Times - Saturday, October 26, 2002

Bangui tense as gunfire erupts

BANGUI, Central Africa Republic Heavy gunfire rattled in the Central African Republic's capital yesterday as Libyan-backed loyalist troops scrambled to fight off a surprise rebel attack, residents said.

The landlocked, impoverished country has suffered a series of mutinies and coup attempts since 1996. Libyan troops flew into the capital, Bangui, last year to help President Ange Felix Patasse's forces put down fighting.

Among the rebels were some elements loyal to sacked army chief Francois Bozize, who fled to the country's northern neighbor, Chad, late last year after a brief uprising that followed his refusal to answer questions over an earlier coup attempt.

Kenyan president dissolves Parliament

NAIROBI, Kenya Kenyan President Daniel arap Moi dissolved Parliament yesterday, beginning the countdown to general elections, likely in December, which will mark the end of his term in power.

Mr. Moi, 78, will end his 24 years in power when the next president takes over. But he has thrust into the limelight political novice Uhuru Kenyatta, son of Kenya's founding president, as presidential candidate of his ruling Kenya African National Union.

EU reaches deal on enlargement finance

BRUSSELS European Union leaders reached a crucial agreement on financial terms for the bloc's eastward enlargement yesterday, clearing the way for final negotiations with 10 mainly East European candidates to join in 2004.

The deal, reached at the end of a two-day EU summit, was the second breakthrough in a week for the ambitious enlargement project after Ireland voted in a referendum last Saturday to approve the Nice Treaty, essential to preparing EU institutions for expansion to 25 members.

The leaders formally endorsed Poland, Hungary, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Slovenia, Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia, Cyprus and Malta as ready to join the bloc in 2004.

Spanish serial killer slain in prison

MADRID A serial killer sentenced to 440 years in jail for raping and strangling 16 elderly widows was slain in prison, officials said yesterday.

Two prisoners with makeshift knives attacked 44-year-old Jose Antonio Rodriguez Vega in the courtyard of Topas jail in western Salamanca province Thursday, two days after his transfer from another facility where inmates also had attacked him.

Rodriguez Vega was convicted in 1991 for the attacks that occurred over a period of 10 months in 1987 and 1988 in the northern city of Santander.

Diana's mother's home hit by burglars

LONDON Thieves stole jewelry and other items from the remote Scottish home of Princess Diana's mother while she was in London testifying at the theft trial of her daughter's butler.

Frances Shand Kydd, 66, said yesterday that the thieves apparently broke in on Wednesday after she left her home on the Isle of Seil, near Oban in western Scotland. Her housekeeper discovered the break-in Thursday morning. Nothing connected to the late princess was taken, she said.

21 of family killed in Algeria massacre

ALGIERS, Algeria Attackers killed 21 members of the same family, including a 3-month-old baby, in a massacre that bore the hallmarks of Islamic extremists, Algeria's official news agency said yesterday.

The assailants stabbed and fatally shot the victims in rural Ouled Abdallah, about 125 miles west of Algiers in the Chlef region, the news agency said. Five persons were in critical condition after being shot in the head.

The radical Armed Islamic Group is present in the Chlef region and known for massacres of civilians.

Nepal's Maoist rebels ready for talks

KATMANDU, Nepal Nepal's Maoist rebels fighting to topple the constitutional monarchy said yesterday they were ready for peace talks to end a deadly insurgency that has racked the Himalayan kingdom for six years.

Maoist leader Prachanda also demanded an end to a security crackdown against the rebels.

The statement came after Lokendra Bahadur Chand, the new interim prime minister appointed by King Gyanendra, said he wanted to restart peace talks with the rebels, who are battling to install a communist republic in the deeply poor nation.

Mexico braces for Hurricane Kenna

PUERTO VALLARTA, Mexico Soldiers and civil authorities evacuated thousands of people and closed schools and docks yesterday as Mexico's Pacific coast braced for Hurricane Kenna, one of the strongest hurricanes to threaten the area in a generation.

The storm was roaring toward the shrimp-rich coasts of Nayarit state, well south of the Baja California Peninsula, where leaders of Pacific Rim nations were gathering for a weekend summit.

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