Friday, October 29, 2004


Seven detained in kidnappings

KABUL — Police detained seven suspects for questioning in the kidnapping of three U.N. election workers in the Afghan capital, officials said yesterday, but investigators appeared no closer to establishing whether Taliban-linked militants or criminals were responsible for the abductions.

Officials said no demands have been received for the release of the victims, who were snatched from their marked U.N. vehicle by about five armed men wearing military uniforms midday Thursday.

The victims have been identified as a male Filipino diplomat Angelito Nayan, and two women — Shqipe Habibi of Kosovo and Annetta Flanigan from Northern Ireland.


Sihanouk’s son crowned king

PHNOM PENH — Carried on a golden litter by eight bearers and blessed by dozens of chanting Buddhist monks, Norodom Sihamoni was crowned Cambodia’s new king in an ornate ceremony yesterday, replacing his father, Norodom Sihanouk, one of Asia’s longest-serving and best-known rulers.

The new king has no political experience and is better known as a professional dancer and an envoy to UNESCO, the U.N.’s top cultural preservation agency. He has spent most of the past two decades living outside his homeland, mostly in Paris.


Patriotism issue touchy for emperor

TOKYO — Japanese officials rushed yesterday to dismiss suggestions that the emperor overstepped his authority and meddled in government affairs by voicing his opposition to Tokyo schools’ policy of compulsory displays of patriotism.

Emperor Akihito on Thursday said he hoped nobody was being forced to face the flag and sing the national anthem — both potent symbols of Japan’s brutal 20th-century invasion of Asia.

The comments caused a stir in Japan because the post-World War II constitution strictly limits the emperor to acting as a figurehead and bars him from policy-making.


Sexual violence massive in conflicts

NEW YORK — Sexual violence is taking place “on a massive scale” within countries in conflict, and the international response remains inadequate, one of the U.N.’s highest-ranking women told the Security Council.

Four years after the council adopted a landmark U.N. resolution committing governments to protecting women from the abuses of war, Thoraya Obaid, head of the U.N. Population Fund, said “most women in conflict and post-conflict situations continue to experience little peace and little security.”


Mugabe hails ties with South Africa

HARARE — Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe has declared his government’s relations with the ruling party in South Africa “excellent” and condemned the recent attempt by fact finders from that country’s main labor body to enter his country, state television reported.

Mr. Mugabe’s comments came on Thursday, a day after 13 members of the Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU), the huge labor federation, were deported from Harare after they defied a Zimbabwe government ban.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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