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Tuesday, November 2, 1999
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Pak mercenaries ‘join’ Chechen forces
MOSCOW, Nov 1 — Some 400 Pakistani and other foreign mercenaries have joined Chechen extremists over the past three weeks, reports Russian Federal Intelligence Services.

No hope of survivors in Egyptair crash
CAIRO, Nov 1 — Rescue personnel continued scouring the icy waters of the Atlantic Ocean off the Nantucket island on the eastern US coast today as hopes faded of finding any survivors of the ill-fated Egyptair Boeing that crashed here yesterday with 219 people on board.
 
Christian Krause, left, president of the Lutheran World Federation, and Edward cardinal Cassidy, president of the Pontifical Council of Christian Unity sign the Joint Declaration on the Doctrine of Justification in Augsburg, Germany, Sunday.
Christian Krause, left, president of the Lutheran World Federation, and Edward cardinal Cassidy, president of the Pontifical Council of Christian Unity, sign the Joint Declaration on the Doctrine of Justification in Augsburg, Germany, Sunday. — AP/PTI

Catholics, Lutherans patch up
AUGSBURG (Germany), Nov 1 — Putting aside five centuries of theological differences, Roman Catholic and Lutheran church leaders today signed a declaration ending the dispute over salvation that sparked the Protestant Reformation and led to the Thirty Years War.
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Oppn strike cripples B’desh
DHAKA, Nov 1 — A general strike intended to force the government to call early elections shut businesses and schools today and halted most road traffic in about 60 cities across Bangladesh.

US officials ignore Lone
WASHINGTON, Nov 1 — Abdul Ghani Lone, a prominent leader of the All Party Hurriyat Conference, an umbrella group of separatist outfits in Kashmir, was virtually cold-shouldered by the U.S. administration officials during his visit here.

China puts rebel on trial
BEIJING, Nov 1 — China today tried a veteran dissident on charges that he sought to overthrow the government by calling on Chinese to light candles to commemorate victims of the bloody June 4, 1989, crackdown on Tiananmen Square pro-democracy movement.

Now N. Korean missiles for Pak
WASHINGTON, Nov 1 — North Korea has replaced China in providing Pakistan with long-rang modern missiles and the relationship is likely to continue "so long as India pursues its own longer range and solid fuel missiles", a leading US defence think tank has said.

 

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Pak mercenaries ‘join’ Chechen forces

MOSCOW, Nov 1 (UNI) — Some 400 Pakistani and other foreign mercenaries have joined Chechen extremists over the past three weeks, reports Russian Federal Intelligence Services.

The Russian news agency Novosti, today quoted official sources as saying that the continuous flow of "trained killers’’ into Chechnya was the result of a large scale international campaign with the President of the break-away Chechnya, Mr Aslan Maskhadov, extending all-out support to the rebels.

The daily Obshchaya reports that the "International Relief Association’’ based in the USA has collected about $ 2 million for the Chechen rebels, whereas California-based Islamic Relief Worldwide Organisation has already sent over $ 6 million. Another city, Plymouth, has also contributed $ 2 million to the Caucasian separatists, it alleged.

Novosti also accused the British International Centre, of financing and guiding the Caucasian Forum of Non-Governmental Organisations enabling the rebels to continue waging war against the Russian Government.

Meanwhile, the Russian Foreign Office has taken keen interest in the meeting of radical Islamic religious organisations who plan to increase financial assistance to the Wahabbis in North Caucasus.

Reuters adds: Two carloads of Chechen refugees were allowed to leave the rebel region today, the first since Russia announced earlier in the day that it was opening the border.

The refugees in the cars said there was a 15-km-long queue of others desperate to leave.

Russia had shut the corridor last month, despite calls from international aid agencies to let the refugees pass. Nearly 1,90,000 persons have fled Russian air strikes and shelling of the rebel region since fighting began in September.

It was not clear whether the refugees would also be allowed to cross in the other direction.

Huge crowds of Chechens were lined up outside the border, many of whom had left relatives behind and were hoping to return to Chechenya to search for them. A large contingent of police tried to maintain order at the frontier in freezing rain.

Russian officials had promised to open the border last week but delayed the opening while heavy shelling and bombing of villages near the frontier was under way.Top


 

All 219 feared dead
No hope of survivors in Egyptair crash

CAIRO, Nov 1 (Agencies) — Rescue personnel continued scouring the icy waters of the Atlantic Ocean off the Nantucket island on the eastern US coast today as hopes faded of finding any survivors of the ill-fated Egyptair Boeing that crashed here yesterday with 219 people on board.

More than 20 hours after the crash, only one body had been recovered and wreckage and debris of the plane sighted in a 22-km area, 100 km off Nantucket, where the plane went down. Rescuers said operations were difficult as the waters were deep in the area.

Hopes of finding any survivors, experts said, were few. No one could survive in 58 Farenheit water for more than 12 hours, they said.

As the night fell, an air search was called off but US Coast Guard ships continued to search the area. A navy ship USS Grapple with advanced sonar has since joined the search to help in rescue operations.

So far, searchers have found one body and small debris including two partially inflated rafts, life jackets, seat cushions and passports. But officials said nothing much should he read into the partially inflated rafters.

However, no burnt items were found which, at least initially, ruled out the possibility of an explosion triggered by suspected terrorists.

Investigators from the National Transport Safety Board (NTSB) and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) have launched a simultaneous probe to determine the cause of the crash.

Late in the evening, US President Bill Clinton and other US officials said there was no evidence of any criminal activity but did not rule it out. The plane’s sudden descent in its final moments, plunging from a height of 30,000 feet to 14,000 within 14 seconds, was unusual, experts said.

Flight 990 en route to Cairo from Los Angeles, which had a brief stopover at New York’s John F. Kennedy Airport for refuelling and picking up passengers, crashed 55 minutes after take-off under poor visibility conditions, minutes after it disappeared from the radar screens.

Investigators are going through the list of passengers on board to see if anyone was under terrorist threat and also checking on people who left the USA within hours of the crash.

Cairo (Reuters): Relatives of many of the 217 people missing after the crash of an Egyptair airliner prepared to travel to the USA, today, still struggling to face the horror of the disaster.

"All of us relatives still cannot believe it. I still cannot come to grips with it,’’ said Abdallah El-Mahourky, whose 36-year-old sister Maha was a stewardess on the flight which plunged into the sea off the U.S. coast yesterday.

"I heard about it from CNN in the morning and went straight to the airport,’’ he said. "This accident was an act of God.’’

He said his sister had left behind a two-year-old daughter and husband. Mr El-Mahourky planned to travel to the USA on a special flight laid on by Egyptair and would go to the mosque to mourn his sister on his return.

Bleary-eyed relatives of passengers of the doomed flight 990 stepped silently out of a bus at the US Embassy to be issued with visas to travel to New York to identify the bodies of their loved ones.

Mr Mohamed Ahmed Atta, uncle of an Egyptian navy engineering officer Abdel-hai Mohamed Shaheen, said his 34-year-old nephew was mourned by his parents, wife and two-year-old son.

The ten-year-old Boeing-1 767 went down in the Atlantic Ocean about 100 km off Nantucket Island. Top


 

Oppn strike cripples B’desh

DHAKA, Nov 1 (AP, Reuters) — A general strike intended to force the government to call early elections shut businesses and schools today and halted most road traffic in about 60 cities across Bangladesh.

The shutdown overshadowed Bangladesh’s autumn session of Parliament’s that opened amid tight security.

Opposition lawmakers were absent. Deputies from Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina’s ruling Awami League Party drove to Parliament under police escort.

A four-party opposition alliance, led by Ms Hasina’s predecessor Khaleda Zia, called the strike to demand the resignation of the 3-year-old government and for elections ahead of the 2001 schedule.

"We shall not rest until this corrupt and autocratic government steps down for early elections," Ms Zia said in a statement today.

Hundreds of demonstrators marched through the streets chanting slogans such as "down with Hasina’s corrupt government." Ms Hasina’s supporters also took to the streets, but no clashes were immediately reported.

The alliance accuses Hasina’s government of corruption, incompetence and harassment of political opponents, a charge the government denies.

At least 20 persons, including two photographers, were injured during clashes between the police and opposition activists enforcing a general strike in Dhaka, witnesses said.Top


 

China puts rebel on trial

BEIJING, Nov 1 (AP) — China today tried a veteran dissident on charges that he sought to overthrow the government by calling on Chinese to light candles to commemorate victims of the bloody June 4, 1989, crackdown on Tiananmen Square pro-democracy movement.

Jiang Qisheng and his lawyer pleaded innocent during the roughly two-hour trial and in turn argued that the Chinese police had broken the law by failing to inform his family of Jiang’s whereabouts after detaining him in May.

Jiang’s trial comes amid a government crackdown on pro-democracy activists and an intensifying campaign against the banned spiritual movement Falun Gong. China is planning show trials for Falun Gong leaders. The authorities have also jailed or arrested most leaders of the banned China Democracy Party, decimating the fledgling movement.

If convicted of "inciting the overthrow of state power," Jiang could be sentenced to up to five years or more if the intermediate people’s court decides that his crime was particularly serious, his lawyer Mo Shaoping said.Top


 

US officials ignore Lone

WASHINGTON, Nov 1 — Abdul Ghani Lone, a prominent leader of the All Party Hurriyat Conference (APHC), an umbrella group of separatist outfits in Kashmir, was virtually cold-shouldered by the U.S. administration officials during his visit here.

According to sources, his requests for meetings with State Department officials dealing with South Asia were ignored and he did not get to meet any administration official.

However, Lone punctuated his three-month-long medical treatment in Florida with trips to Washington for meetings with think tank analysts and some US lawmakers and was hosted by the Centre for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), a leading think tank here, to lead a roundtable discussion on Kashmir: A view from inside.

Lone claimed that the highly successful boycott of the elections in Kashmir was a clear indication that the "freedom movement" is alive.

According to Lone, the Kargil misadventure by Pakistan-backed mercenaries and Pakistani troops as well as the Lahore Declaration that was a consequence of the bus diplomacy between the Indian and Pakistani Prime Ministers was of absolutely no relevance to the Kashmir movement.

Lone said the recent military coup in Pakistan and the coming to power of Gen. Pervez Musharraf, who orchestrated the Kargil invasion, was also of no relevance to the "Kashmiri freedom fighters."

"If India commits a mistake or Pakistan commits a mistake, we need not be penalised for that," he said. "Our movement is an indigenous movement. Nobody should measure us in terms of India and Pakistan."

He vehemently denied that the Kashmir separatist movement was hand in glove with the powers that be in Islamabad. "We have nothing to do with them. They are a separate country. They have got their own internal problem. So how could it affect us?" he said.

Lone was extremely bitter that the Indian Government had not renewed his passport that expired on October 23, 1999, although he had pleaded for an extension so that he could go through with his remaining medical tests. He said the Indian Embassy here had granted him an extension of only a week, till October 31, foreclosing his critical medical attention.

Lone said he was thus departing with his heart condition as bad as it was when he arrived.

— India Abroad News ServiceTop


 

Now N. Korean missiles for Pak

WASHINGTON, Nov 1 (PTI) — North Korea has replaced China in providing Pakistan with long-rang modern missiles and the relationship is likely to continue "so long as India pursues its own longer range and solid fuel missiles", a leading US defence think tank has said.

China has provided Pakistan "M-11 missiles and technology which have a 300-km range" in the late 1990s ... but US pressure to halt missile and nuclear technology transfers overcame its interests in helping Pakistan and North Korea replaced Beijing in supplying Islamabad with longer range, more modern missiles, says the National Defence University (NDU).

North Korea supplied the 1,500-km range" No Dong", which Pakistan christened as ‘Taliban Ghauri’ and this arms relationship "is likely to continue so long as India pursues its own longer-range and solid-fuel missiles", the university said in its latest strategic assessment.Top


 

Catholics, Lutherans patch up

AUGSBURG (Germany), Nov 1 (AP) — Putting aside five centuries of theological differences, Roman Catholic and Lutheran church leaders today signed a declaration ending the dispute over salvation that sparked the Protestant Reformation and led to the Thirty Years War.

The 700 guests at Augsburg’s Lutheran Church of St. Anna’s and more than 2,000 observers in a nearby tent watched, applauded and hugged each other as officials from the two bodies stated that both churches believe that the salvation of individual Christians is "justified" by God’s love alone, not by human efforts.

From the Vatican, Pope John Paul II welcomed the signing as a "milestone along a difficult path full of joy, union, and communion among Christians".

"For the first time in centuries we are walking on common ground together," said Bishop Christian Krause, President of the Lutheran World Federation.

While Lutherans believe salvation is based on faith alone, Catholics believe that people’s actions can make a difference to reach heaven.

After 30 years of consultation among theologians, the two sides announced in June that they would sign the agreement to unite their beliefs on justification.

The signing ceremony included representatives of 12 countries.Top


 

Proposal to elect peers under fire

LONDON, Nov 1 (Reuters) — Proposals for a historic shake-up of Britain’s House of Lords, offering wide powers to a partially elected second chamber, emerged but immediately came under fire from elected parliamentarians and hereditary peers.

The Sunday Telegraph, which published details of constitutional changes proposed by a Royal commission, said yesterday the recommendations would come as a surprise to Prime Minister Tony Blair who wanted a more acquiescent second chamber.Top


 

Mahathir may testify

KUALA LUMPUR, Nov 1 (AP) — Malyasian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad had been subpoenaed to testify in the sensational trial of his ousted deputy Anwar Ibrahim and could take the witness stand as early as this week, defence lawyers said today.

The subpoena was served to Mahathir on Saturday and returned to the Kuala Lumpur High Court with the Prime Minister’s signature, said Gobind Singh Deo, one of Anwar’s attorneys.Top


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Global Monitor
  Using babies to smuggle cocaine
LONDON: Drug smugglers are forcing babies to swallow small plastic bags filled with cocaine, the Sunday Mirror has reported quoting British customs officials. "Using babies to smuggle drugs is a new trend, and an intensely frightening one," said a customs official in Dover. "The bags are coated with honey or dipped in sugar so the babies enjoy putting them in their mouths." — DPA

2 Pak pilots killed
GUJRANWALA:
Two Pakistani Army pilots were killed when their training aircraft crashed near Rahwali base in eastern Punjab province on Sunday, the Army said. The Pakistan-built Mashaq aircraft was on a routine training flight when it crashed near here, 50 km from Lahore. — PTI

Bahrain protest
MANAMA:
Bahrain has withdrawn from a Gulf Arab stamp exhibition in Doha after Qatar barred stamps showing the disputed Hawar Islands as part of Bahrain. "After the confiscation of the maps and stamps, there was nothing left for us there. We have boycotted the conference because we do not accept anyone confiscating Bahrain’s maps", a Bahraini official said. — IPS

2 die in air crash
MADRID:
A light aircraft crashed on Sunday, next to a sports field here, claiming the lives of the two occupants, state television RTVE reported. Two schoolteams which had been playing a football match on the field at the time of the crash and spectators were not injured. — DPA

Transport fares
KATHMANDU:
Nepal raised public transport fares on Sunday to avoid a possible strike by operators in view of the increase in diesel prices. Transport operators had been threatening to go on strike if the fares were not hiked. Opposition groups are, however, protesting against this move. — ANI

Bar inferno: one held
INCHON (South Korea):
The South Korean police has detained a 14-year-old boy, suspected of involuntary manslaughter following a bar room inferno in which 55 youngsters had died on Saturday, officials said. The boy, a part time worker for an interior design firm, along with four others is accused of helping spark the blaze as he cleaned up after renovation work in a karaoke lounge below the bar. — AFP
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