- The Washington Times - Tuesday, May 18, 2004

VATICAN CITY

Pope marks 84th birthday

VATICAN CITY — Pope John Paul II turned 84 yesterday, beaming as well-wishers sang “Happy Birthday” and thanking God for the “gift of life.”

The frail pontiff insisted on keeping up his regular busy schedule, but set aside time for a birthday lunch and cake with his closest aides.

The occasion also was marked by publication of his latest book, which mixes memories from his native Poland, a touch of self-criticism and a defense of priestly celibacy.

NIGERIA

Emergency declared after sectarian killings

LAGOS — Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo declared a state of emergency in the central state of Plateau yesterday, firing the governor and dissolving the state legislature after fighting between Christians and Muslims that has killed hundreds.

The fighting in Plateau began in September 2001 in the previously tranquil city of Jos. More than 1,000 have been killed.

The bloodshed escalated earlier this month with the killings of hundreds of Muslims by members of a Christian ethnic militia in the town of Yelwa. Muslims rioted last week in the northern city of Kano, attacking Christians and killing scores in apparent revenge for the Yelwa killings.

CUBA

3 dissidents jailed over rights study

HAVANA — Three Cuban dissidents were sentenced to prison yesterday in the third trial of opponents of Cuba’s communist government in a month.

Orlando Zapata, Raul Arencibia and Virgilio Marante were convicted of contempt for authority, disorderly conduct and resisting arrest, the Cuban Human Rights Commission said. They had been arrested on Dec. 6, 2002, when they gathered to study the Universal Declaration of Human Rights at a house in a Havana suburb.

Leading dissident Oscar Elias Biscet was arrested in the same incident and sentenced to 25 years in prison.

BRITAIN

Soldier arrested over faked photos

LONDON — At least one British soldier has been arrested over the fake Iraqi abuse photographs published in the Daily Mirror newspaper, the Ministry of Defense said yesterday.

The soldier, who has not been charged, was being questioned by the special investigations branch as part of its probe into the publication of faked photographs.

The Daily Mirror on Friday issued an apology for running the pictures and fired its editor, Piers Morgan, who had repeatedly stuck by the photographs despite doubts from experts.

UGANDA

Army says troops killed 54 rebels

KAMPALA — Ugandan troops killed 54 Lord’s Resistance Army rebels in a helicopter gunship attack in southern Sudan, the army said yesterday.

A senior LRA commander who was traveling to meet the group’s leader, Joseph Kony, was among those who came under attack, the army said. The army’s account could not be confirmed.

The Ugandan army has been operating in southern Sudan since 2002 when Khartoum agreed to let Ugandan troops cross the border and attack bases the LRA has used to wage an 18-year-old war against the government of President Yoweri Museveni.

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