- The Washington Times - Friday, October 31, 2003


Kabul at crossroads U.N. office warns

MOSCOW — Afghanistan, the world’s leading producer of opium, risks becoming a failed state in the hands of drugs cartels and narco-terrorists, the United Nations warns.

Opium cultivation was virtually eradicated in 2001 by the Taliban regime, but since it was forced from power two years ago, Afghanistan has resumed harvesting and now accounts for 77 percent of global opium production, the U.N. Office on Drugs and Crime said in its latest annual report.

“The country is clearly at a crossroads. Either major surgical drug-control measures are taken now, or the drug cancer in Afghanistan will keep spreading and metastasize into corruption, violence and terrorism,” U.N. anti-drugs chief Antonio Maria Costa said in the report, presented in Moscow Wednesday.


Curfew follows Mandalay violence

RANGOON — The military government said Thursday it imposed a curfew on a central township following violence between Muslims and Buddhists that caused undisclosed casualties there and in nearby Mandalay.

“Recently there have been some disturbances in Mandalay and a few other places between people professing different faith,” the regime said in a vaguely worded statement faxed to Agence France-Presse.

Washington-based Radio Free Asia, citing an eyewitness report, said Wednesday that dozens of people, mainly Muslims, died in fires during riots Oct. 19, including a pregnant woman and a child. RFA said the eyewitness saw many corpses.

“Unfortunately, there are some casualties and property damage as a result of the disturbances,” the junta said, stressing that details could not be publicized because an investigation was under way.

Weekly notes

Sri Lanka said Thursday that it will abide by peace broker Norway’s decision over demands by President Chandrika Kumaratunga for the sacking of the top truce monitor Maj. Gen. Tryggve Tellefsen. Government spokesman G.L. Peiris said there had been no interruption to observing the truce between government forces and Tamil Tiger rebels, and accused Mrs. Kumaratunga of acting without consulting the prime minister or the Cabinet. … Bangladesh’s parliament, plagued by bitter rivalry between the two largest parties, will begin its new session Nov. 16, President Iajuddin Ahmed announced Thursday. The main opposition Awami League party has boycotted parliament sessions since early this year following remarks by a government minister against its leader, former Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina Wajed.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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