- The Washington Times - Wednesday, January 28, 2004


Fighting escalates along Chad border

TINE — Thousands of refugees are fleeing across the border, government bombers are blasting civilians with shrapnel, and marauders on horseback are chasing women and children into the bush.

Scenes long familiar from two decades of war in southern Sudan now are part of everyday life in the country’s west, where a conflict between government and rebels has escalated sharply.

“I ask the government of Sudan to stop the planes from bombing,” said Abdallah Khadr, 54, huddled with his wife and children under a tree on the Chadian side. “Countries like America should tell the Sudanese government to stop the war,” he added.

The United States has avoided condemning government attacks in the west so as not to upset Khartoum during negotiations with the southern rebels, says the International Crisis Group. “It’s a massive miscalculation,” said John Prendergast, special adviser to the think tank.


Ex-rebels battle former allies

BUJUMBURA — Fighting between former rebels and the country’s last active Hutu rebel group, the National Liberation Forces (FNL), continued yesterday near this Burundian capital, with the government army also involved, officials said.

“Clashes erupted again today with the army actively fighting alongside the [Forces for the Defense of Democracy],” FNL spokesman Pasteur Habimana told Agence France-Presse by telephone.

The FDD signed a peace accord with the government in November and was given several key ministerial posts, but the FNL refused to negotiate with the government. Last Thursday, FDD fighters began an offensive against FNL positions in the Nyabiraba district, the main area where the FNL is fighting the government.

The government sent troops to the area Tuesday after the FDD fighters suffered “several setbacks,” said a military source.


Groom held, suspected of marrying 14-year-old

KAMPALA — A Ugandan groom found himself in jail and could be sentenced to death after police stormed his honeymoon to investigate whether his bride was underage, police said yesterday.

Alamanzan Nkugwa was arrested Tuesday in the village of Buttanswa, 63 miles north of here, on suspicion that he had married a 14-year-old girl. The legal age for women to marry in Uganda is 18.

“We have arrested the man and the girl has been brought to Kampala for medical examination to see whether they had sex and ascertain her age,” police spokesman John Kimera said. He said Mr. Nkugwa, who was married in a public ceremony attended by local leaders, was expected to be charged with defilement. If convicted, he could face the death penalty.

Weekly notes

International trials of Rwandan suspects in the 1994 genocide that left up to a million dead have been halted by a three-day strike by lawyers, the British Broadcasting Corp. reported yesterday from Arusha, Tanzania. Lawyers defending more than 40 suspects said they were protesting the tribunal’s purported pro-prosecution bias. Striking lawyer Christopher Black said the international court is being used as a political tool for the United States. “The tribunal wants us here to make it look legitimate, but it doesn’t want us to represent the suspects effectively,” he said. … The trial of four Kenyans charged with murder in connection with the 2002 car bombing of an Israeli-owned hotel near Mombasa was adjourned yesterday to allow the prosecution to check whether two court assessors are related to the accused. The proceedings, which were to have begun this Monday, will begin next Monday.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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