- The Washington Times - Thursday, August 28, 2003

COLOMBIA

Rebels allow video of U.S. hostages

BOGOTA — Colombian rebels have allowed a journalist to videotape three U.S. Defense Department contractors they captured in February, showing the hostages apparently in good health, U.S. officials and the mother of one of the men said yesterday.

Hostage Marc Gonsalves sent a message to his family in the tape, which also shows the other men. The rebels call the hostages “gringo CIA agents” and “prisoners of war” and want to swap them for comrades held in Colombian jails.

The three civilians were seized by the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or FARC, when their Cessna plane crashed on a rugged hillside during a mission to check out crops used to make cocaine.

The tape was made by an unnamed journalist who six weeks ago approached Mr. Gonsalves’ mother, offering to deliver a taped message to the guerrillas. The journalist was then allowed to videotape a message from the hostages — the first proof that the men were alive — and take it to the United States. The FBI recently acquired the video.

INDIA

22 children die as bridge crumbles

AHMEDABAD — At least 22 children were killed and 20 were feared dead after a road bridge across an inlet in western India collapsed yesterday, sending vehicles plummeting into the water.

Officials in the federal territory of Daman, about 125 miles from Bombay, said 28 persons, including 24 students, were rescued and about 20 students were missing.

Hundreds of people protested at the scene, blaming the authorities for the collapse of the dilapidated structure. Daman was a Portuguese colony until 1961, and the 330-yard bridge over the Daman Ganga River was built by the Portuguese.

GERMANY

Libyan charity to pay Berlin bomb victims

BERLIN — A charity led by the son of Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi pledged yesterday to compensate victims of a 1986 bombing of a German disco used by U.S. soldiers.

Two U.S. soldiers and a Turkish woman were killed and more than 200 people were injured in the bombing of the West Berlin nightclub, which prompted reprisal bombings of Libyan cities by the United States.

The Gadhafi International Foundation for Charity Associations said it was hoping to meet victims and their families to reach a quick and simple solution.

CHINA

U.S. urged to stop Dalai Lama’s visit

BEIJING — China urged the United States yesterday not to allow the Dalai Lama, Tibet’s exiled spiritual leader, to visit next week, when he is expected to meet President Bush.

In Washington, U.S. State Department deputy spokesman Philip Reeker said the Dalai Lama, who met with Mr. Bush during his last visit in 2001, will meet with “appropriate U.S. officials in his capacity as a religious leader.”

Representatives of the Dalai Lama, who fled Tibet for India in 1959 after a failed uprising against Chinese rule, said this week that he would visit New York, Washington and two other cities during the three-week trip, expected to begin Sept. 4.

NEPAL

Maoist rebels kill senior army officer

KATMANDU — Maoist rebels fatally shot a top army officer at his home in an upscale residential area of Nepal’s capital yesterday, a day after walking out of peace talks and ending a seven-month truce, an official said.

The victim was the most senior army officer to have been killed since the rebels began their revolt in 1996. Another army officer was shot and injured in a separate attack in the capital, Katmandu.

In another incident, rebels shot and wounded a bank official as they stole about $100,000 from a state-owned bank in west Nepal.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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