- The Washington Times - Friday, September 20, 2002

Colombian troops kill 21 rebels in clashes

BOGOTA, Colombia Army troops battled rebels on two fronts yesterday, killing 21 guerrillas and freeing two civilians who had been kidnapped by the insurgents. A third hostage died in the fighting.

A clash near the village of Carmen de Carupa, 43 miles north of Bogota, left 13 guerrillas dead. It was the heaviest reported rebel casualties in ground combat since President Alvaro Uribe was inaugurated on Aug. 7.

In the second battle, troops backed by helicopter gunships fought rebels in northwest Colombia in their efforts to free Antioquia state Gov. Guillermo Gaviria, who was kidnapped by the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or FARC, four months ago.

Chavez arrests opposition leader

CARACAS, Venezuela A Venezuelan opposition leader who ran a newspaper ad urging the military to rebel against the government was arrested by the country's secret police yesterday.

Alejandro Pena Esclusa was taken into custody after holding a news conference to promote a demonstration in front of the Caracas Francisco de Miranda air base today, President Hugo Chavez confirmed.

Mr. Chavez said the arrest showed his government was determined to prevent another uprising like the April 12-14 coup that temporarily ousted him from power and left dozens dead in protests.

Truckloads of weapons found in Afghanistan

BAGRAM, Afghanistan A raid in southeastern Afghanistan produced a stash of literature calling for holy war against the United States and truckloads of weapons, including a World War II-era gun, a military spokesman said yesterday.

Special-forces troops detained seven persons in the raid Wednesday near the village of Orgun, said Col. Roger King at Bagram air base, the U.S. military headquarters in Afghanistan.

In Kabul late yesterday, Afghan media reported that security forces foiled a plot to shoot down a passenger plane by seizing a British-made Blowpipe surface-to-air missile in Maidan Shahr in Wardak province, just west of the capital.

5 terror suspects held in Pakistan

KARACHI, Pakistan Pakistani police, working with FBI investigators, arrested five men in overnight raids and accused them of links to an al Qaeda-backed group that had targeted foreigners, churches and American fast-food chains, a senior police official said yesterday.

Among those arrested was the owner of a soft drinks and ice cream shop in Karachi, identified only as Masood, who reportedly stored weapons and sheltered members of the militant group Harkat-ul-Mujahideen Al-Almi, the official said.

France to appeal Papon's release

PARIS France announced yesterday that it would try to overturn the release from jail of former Vichy official Maurice Papon as protests mounted against the clemency shown to a man convicted for helping send Jews to Auschwitz.

Justice Minister Dominique Perben, acting after the surprise release Wednesday angered and upset many French, including President Jacques Chirac, instructed the Paris prosecutor to seek a reversal of the appeals court decision to free him.

At dawn, a dozen protesters banged pots and pans at Papon's house outside Paris, where he spent his first night in freedom. Swastikas and "SS," symbols of the Nazi era, were scrawled on the outside walls.

Germany targets groups linked to Turkish militant

FRANKFURT, Germany German authorities yesterday shut down 16 Islamic groups linked to a jailed Turkish militant in the country's latest effort to crack down on extreme religious organizations.

Police raided 100 homes and offices across Germany in the action, which follows the banning last December of the Caliphate State group run by Turkish militant Muhammed Metin Kaplin, Interior Minister Otto Schily said.

The Cologne-based Caliphate State openly calls for the overthrow of Turkey's secular government and its replacement with an Islamic state. Kaplan, wanted in Turkey on charges of treason, is serving four years in prison for incitement in the killing of a rival cleric in Berlin in 1997.

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