- The Washington Times - Sunday, September 28, 2003


Aftershocks rock northern island

URAKAWA — Dozens of aftershocks rocked Japan’s northern island of Hokkaido yesterday, keeping residents busy picking up fallen books and sweeping up glass a day after a powerful earthquake.

At least two people still were missing after the magnitude 8 quake, the most powerful worldwide in more than two years. Nearly 600 people were injured, some seriously.

The quake was followed by more than three dozen aftershocks, some as powerful as magnitudes 6 and 5.2, that caused more damage and sent more possessions crashing to the floor.


Suu Kyi returns to house arrest

RANGOON — Burma clamped tight security around the home of democracy icon Aung San Suu Kyi and turned away foreign diplomats yesterday as Western governments and opposition groups demanded her release from house arrest.

The Nobel laureate, who had major surgery a week ago, was driven from a Rangoon hospital on Friday to the house where she has been confined for more than seven of the past 14 years.

Police staffed security roadblocks and checked cars near the famed lakeside home and rallying point for opposition to the ruling junta. A group of U.S. and European diplomats were turned away when they tried to visit Mrs. Suu Kyi.


Protesters demand end to Iraq operation

LONDON — Thousands of protesters demanding an end to the Iraq operation took to the streets yesterday in London, Athens, Paris and other cities, calling for the withdrawal of troops and chanting slogans attacking the U.S. and British governments.

The protests, the first major demonstrations since the fall of Saddam Hussein in April, were held as the United States tried to gain international help in rebuilding Iraq, where American troops regularly come under attack. The demonstrations were organized in each country by local activist groups that have informal contacts with one another.

London’s was the biggest protest, drawing 20,000 people. Demonstrators turned out in a dozen other countries, including South Korea and Egypt.


Turmoil rattles new parliament

PHNOM PENH — Opposition parties boycotted the inaugural session of Cambodia’s Parliament yesterday, demanding the prime minister step down and forcing the delay of the start of the legislature.

Parliament’s 73 members of Prime Minister Hun Sen’s Cambodian People’s Party attended the swearing-in ceremony. However, the new 123-seat National Assembly will not be able to function, or confirm Hun Sen’s new government, without at least 87 members.

It was not immediately clear whether the parties now will try to negotiate a deal with the government or prevent the parliament from operating altogether.


Pope alert, strong in Philippine meeting

VATICAN CITY — Pope John Paul II appeared alert and relatively strong yesterday at a meeting with the president of the Philippines, days after illness caused the pontiff to skip his weekly general audience.

John Paul, who was attending a Mass later yesterday for two deceased popes, met for 20 minutes with President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo and her entourage. Vatican officials helped John Paul to his feet; he shook the president’s hand and returned to his seat for the rest of the meeting.

The 83-year-old pope’s rare absence from a general audience Wednesday because of a mild intestinal problem raised fresh concerns about his health just weeks before he presides at ceremonies marking his 25th anniversary as pope.


Democratic leader dies

ISLAMABAD — The head of Pakistan’s main opposition alliance and one of its strongest democracy advocates has died, his party’s spokesman said Saturday. Nawabzada Nasrullah Khan was 85 years old.

In a half-century career, he took on several of Pakistan’s military dictatorships. He led Pakistan’s main opposition group, the Alliance for the Restoration of Democracy, but he also led his own party, the Pakistan Democratic Party.


President says Taylor may face justice

ABIDJAN — Liberia’s exiled leader, Charles Taylor, could face trial one day at home for war crimes, President Olusegun Obasanjo of Nigeria said yesterday.

Branded a “psychopath” by the top U.N. official in Liberia, Mr. Taylor is largely blamed for a 14-year cycle of violence in his homeland and neighboring Sierra Leone, where more than a quarter of a million people have been killed.

Nigeria gave him asylum as a way of ending the carnage in Liberia, but has come under growing pressure to bring Mr. Taylor to the U.N.-backed war crimes court in Sierra Leone.


U.S. soldiers come under fire

KABUL — Suspected Taliban fighters attacked a U.S. military patrol in eastern Afghanistan, but there were no reports of casualties or damage, military officials said yesterday.

The attack occurred Friday near a U.S. base at Gardez, in eastern Paktia province near the border with Pakistan, military officials said in a prepared statement from Bagram Air Base. Bagram is the headquarters for the U.S.-led coalition.

The soldiers returned fire and the attackers retreated.

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