- The Washington Times - Monday, October 13, 2003


Military controls city after deadly clashes

LA PAZ — The government imposed martial law on a city of 750,000 outside the Andean capital yesterday after a series of deadly clashes between troops and demonstrators protesting plans to export gas to the United States and Mexico.

Eleven persons, including a 7-year-old boy, have died since the protests began two weeks ago in El Alto, a poor industrial city 10 miles outside La Paz. Witnesses said one man was rushed to a hospital yesterday with a gunshot wound to his chest.

The crisis also was causing a severe gas shortage and bringing public transportation to a standstill in the capital of South America’s poorest nation.


New election law hits private armies

KABUL — The government banned warlords yesterday from taking part in politics, a move that would prevent some of the country’s leaders from participating in next year’s elections.

The new law is seen as crucial to helping the country become a stable democracy, as Afghanistan has long been dominated by private militias whose rivalries have kept the country at war for 23 years.

The law, if enforced, is likely to affect several of the nation’s leaders. The Northern Alliance, which supported Hamid Karzai in becoming president after the ouster of the Taliban in late 2001, is a collection of warlords — many of them provincial governors or national politicians.


Mental hospital burns, killing 30 patients

MINSK — A fire believed to have been set by a psychiatric patient engulfed a Belarusian mental hospital yesterday, killing 30 patients and reducing much of the century-old wooden building to ashes.

Another 31 patients had minor injuries, officials said, and one was missing. No hospital staff were in the building when the fire started.

Natalya Petkevich, a spokeswoman for President Alexander Lukashenko, said the fire was set by a patient who had tried to burn down the building twice before. The patient was among those killed.


Wounded Iraqi boy gets new limbs

LONDON — A 13-year-old Iraqi boy who lost both arms and most of his family during the war on Iraq has been successfully fitted with artificial limbs, according to British press reports today.

Ali Ismail Abbas, whose armless torso, horrific burns and haunted eyes symbolized civilian suffering in the conflict, was pictured wearing the prosthetic arms in the Daily Mirror newspaper.

The new arms were fitted at Queen Mary’s Hospital in London in treatment paid for by the government of Kuwait. The boy is being treated at the London rehabilitation center with another maimed Iraqi boy, Ahmed Mohammed Hamza, who lost a leg and a hand.


Obasanjo meets with exiled Liberian

LAGOS — President Olusegun Obasanjo has held talks with exiled former Liberian leader Charles Taylor amid concern that Mr. Taylor might be trying to influence events in his homeland, the Nigerian presidency said yesterday.

The meeting was held late Saturday in Ota, Mr. Obasanjo’s rural home in southwestern Nigeria, and focused on how to maintain peace and stability in Liberia, a spokesman said.

Nigeria granted Mr. Taylor asylum in August to prevent further bloodshed in his West African state. But Mr. Obasanjo said last month that he would be willing to hand over Mr. Taylor to an international tribunal “if the people of Liberia desired.”

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