- The Washington Times - Thursday, May 25, 2006

EAST TIMOR

Soldiers fire on police; foreign troops arrive

DILI — Soldiers fired on unarmed police in East Timor’s capital yesterday, killing nine and wounding 27, as international troops landed to try to end the fighting that threatens to push the country closer to civil war.

Among the wounded were two United Nations police advisers, part of U.N. staff trying to end an hourlong attack by soldiers on the national police headquarters in Dili, U.N. spokesman Stephane Dujarric said in New York.

The U.N. police and military advisers negotiated a cease-fire with the Timorese soldiers, under which the police officers were to surrender their weapons and leave the building, Dujarric said.

BELARUS

Officials seek closure of human rights group

MINSK — The Justice Ministry said yesterday that it had asked a court to close down one of the country’s leading human rights groups, the Belarusian Helsinki Committee.

The move against a persistent critic of the authoritarian rule of President Alexander Lukashenko follows unprecedented protests against his disputed re-election in March.

The Ministry accused the committee of posting unauthorized observers during 2004 parliamentary elections.

SUDAN

African Union team headed for Darfur

KHARTOUM — Sudan has agreed to allow an African Union-United Nations assessment mission into the country ahead of a possible deployment of U.N. troops to enforce a peace deal in war-torn Darfur, a U.N. diplomat said yesterday.

Speaking after a meeting with Sudanese President Omar Hassan al-Bashir, the U.N. envoy Lakhdar Brahimi said: “We agreed that in the coming days the United Nations and the African Union will send a joint assessment mission to Sudan.”

The Sudanese government and the main Darfur rebel faction signed their peace agreement on May 5. Two other factions refused to sign.

EGYPT

Reformist judges seek independence

CAIRO — About 300 pro-reform judges staged a sit-in outside a downtown Cairo courthouse yesterday to demand the independence of Egypt’s judiciary as thousands of riot police watched.

The judges — who demand independence from Egypt’s executive branch and unfettered supervision of parliamentary and presidential elections — wore green sashes and flashed V-for-victory signs in front of the courthouse.

The demands of the judges have become a rallying cause that reinvigorated Egypt’s opposition groups, which police typically beat when they attempt to protest.

NICARAGUA

Aleman extradition blocked by court

MANAGUA — A Nicaraguan appeals court granted former President Arnoldo Aleman an injunction against extradition, effectively blocking U.S. and Panamanian efforts to try him on money laundering charges, his lawyer said yesterday.

The ruling was issued Wednesday by the Appeals Court of Managua, whose president is a member of Aleman’s Constitutionalist Liberal Party, Mauricio Martinez said.

It comes a week after a Panamanian judge ordered the former leader arrested on money laundering charges and extradited to Panama to stand trial.

SOMALIA

Gunbattles rage in militia warfare

MOGADISHU — Mogadishu residents carried wounded Somalis on wheelbarrows as bullets flew over the battered capital yesterday in a new flare-up of violence between rival militias that killed up to 50 people.

Firing mortars, grenades and anti-aircraft guns, Islamist militia linked to Islamic courts squared off with gunmen from a coalition of warlords, in a resumption of the worst violence in Mogadishu for a decade.

The battle for Mogadishu erupted in February. The latest round ended a brief cease-fire brokered by clan elders.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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