|Tuesday, January 25, 2000,
rebels hold 700 hostage
halt Russian offensive
solution by March: Wahid
donors names to be revealed: Kohl
|Over 100 rebels die in Algerian
ALGIERS, Jan 24 More than 100 rebels and 25 government soldiers were killed in fierce fighting in western Algeria, the newspaper Le Matin reported today.
mission not informed
suspected killer arrested
not to quit
Globes for Cruise, Jolie
Thai rebels hold 700 hostage
RATCHABURI (Thailand), Jan 24 (Reuters, DPA) Seventeen hostages escaped from a Thai provincial hospital seized today by gunmen from a Myanmar guerrilla faction, the police at the scene said.
The 17 fled through a back door of Ratchaburi Hospital in western Thailand while the gunmen were releasing four other hostages. Earlier, the gunmen had freed at least 19 hostages, witnesses said.
Thai officials said up to 700 persons were being held at the hospital in Ratchaburi, 120 km from Bangkok. Those released were let out after talks between Thai officials and the guerrillas.
Three masked men in jungle fatigues and armed with M-16 and AK-47 rifles subsequently brought out another seven or eight hostages, bringing the total freed to about 19, the witnesses said.
Thai television showed footage of dozens of patients trapped in the hospital waiting room. They included many women and young children.
We would like to ask the Thai authorities to tell the army to stop shelling us, one of the gunmen told a Thai channel Seven News cameraman allowed into the hospital. The cameraman told reporters later that he had counted about 10 attackers. Thai Army Chief General Surayudh Julanond said earlier that the military had agreed to stop shelling the base.
A Thai negotiator said the attackers, who Thai officials said belonged to Gods Army a small group that broke away from Myanmars Karen National Union Ethnic Guerrillas and was run by 12-year-old twins had also demanded Thailand send doctors and nurses to treat their casualties and allow their fighters to cross into Thailand.
They also demanded that the government allow them to air their demands on Thai television.
Thailand immediately labelled the seizure a terrorist act. These people are terrorists who have made an incursion into Thai territory, said Foreign Ministry spokesman Don Pramudvinai.
After making a terrorist seizure it is unlikely we will comply with their demands, although it is always our policy to avoid unnecessary violence, he said.
The incident was not
expected to adversely affect Thai-Myanmar relations,
which were in fact sorely strained by a similar seizure
of the Myanmar embassy in Bangkok by Myanmar dissidents
in October last year, he said. It is about time
these armed men are treated as terrorists by the
international community, said a spokesman for the
Myanmar Junta in a faxed message to Bangkok-based news
Rebels halt Russian offensive
MOSCOW, Jan 24 (DPA, Reuters) Russian troops were trying early today to dislodge rebel snipers in the Chechen capital Grozny and heavy fighting was also going on for Minutka Square in the downtown area, the Moscow television channel Ort reported.
At Mozdok, North Ossetia, where the Russian Caucasus command is based, fighter-bombers were taking off in quick succession right through the morning to fly missions against the rebels, Ort added.
The command, meanwhile, rejected news media accounts of around 50 Russians being killed since the start of Sunday in Chechnya. It said the true losses had been five dead and eight wounded.
Russias casualty announcements had come under heavy questioning from the media, with investigative reporters producing evidence that suggested the numbers were much larger than admitted.
Chechen forces in Grozny claimed the Russian ground attack had choked to a halt, and that they still held the northwestern Staropromyslovsky region where Russian troops hoisted their colours at the weekend, Interfac news agency reported from the scene.
More fierce clashes were reported 25 km south of the city at the settlements of Duba-Yurt, Chishky and Dachu-Boryoi, army officials said, putting rebel losses in Chechnya since yesterday at 120 fighters killed.
First Deputy Prime Minister Mikhail Kasyanov said in Moscow today that the campaign was costing Russia far more than anticipated. Cost so far have reached five billion roubles ($ 175 million), he said, 1.5 billion more than covered by the budget.
Ria news agency said the body of Major-General Mikhail Malofeyev, slain in Grozny last week, had been flown by the military out of Chechnya.
Meanwhile, a report from Sleptsovsk in Russia said the wife of Chechnyas President Aslan Maskhadov had chosen to stay on enemy territory to be closer to her people while her husband led the battle against Russian troops in the breakaway province.
Ms Kusama Maskhadov, a shy woman in her 40s whose blonde hair is tinged with a touch of silver, said she shared her husbands struggle to avert what she called the genocide of the Chechens.
She denied a report by the Russian military that the Chechen President had been wounded, saying that she had spoken to him after the report.
AFP adds: The end of the Chechen campaign will not be timed to coincide with Russias presidential election in March, acting President Vladimir Putin has said in an interview with state-run RTR television.
The date for the end of the war will be determined in light of the military situation. It will not be linked to any date in the political calendar in Russia, he said yesterday.
Aceh solution by March: Wahid
JAKARTA, Jan 24 (AFP) Indonesian President Abdurrahman Wahid has expressed confidence that problems in the countrys major trouble spots, the province of Aceh and the Maluku islands, would be resolved by March, reports said today.
I expect the problems in Aceh to be solved by this March and I hope Ambon (will be solved) sooner, Mr Wahid was quoted by the Media Indonesia newspaper as telling the private RCTI television station in an interview yesterday night.
Ambon is the capital of the Maluku islands, where more than 1,800 have died in clashes between Muslims and Christians over the past year.
He said a resolution to the Aceh problem, where violence involving security forces and separatist rebels and their supporters has mounted amid calls for a vote on self-rule, will depend on the wish of the people.
Referendum, fine. No referendum, all right, he said.
Meanwhile, Indonesian Vice-President Megawati Sukarnoputri today started a three-day visit to the Maluku Islands in a fresh bid to halt violence between Muslims and Christians, which has claimed at least 1,800 lives in the past year.
Ms Sukarnoputri first visited Tual, the Capital of South-East Maluku district, now peaceful after waves of sectarian violence last year, Mr Ais Tanga, a spokesman for the provincial Governors office in Ambon, told AFP.
Accompanying Ms Sukarnoputri were seven Cabinet ministers and the Chief of the Armed Forces, Admiral Widodo Adisucipto, the official Antara news agency reported.
No donors names to be revealed: Kohl
BERLIN, Jan 24 (AFP, DPA) - The former-Chancellor, Mr Helmut Kohl, has dismissed as a hoax a statement attributed to him saying he was going to reveal the names of donors in a secret funds scandal that has thrown his party into turmoil.
It was not immediately known who was behind the statement faxed to news agencies.
Mr Kohl has hitherto adamantly refused to name names, saying he had given his word of honour, despite appeals by his Christian Democratic Party (CDU) to reveal the funds sources.
The former head of government admitted in November he had run secret accounts from 1993 to 1998 in violation of a law stipulating that political contributions of more than 20,000 marks (10,000 dollars/euros) must be declared publicly.
In a related development, Germanys Christian Democrat Presidium ended a late-night emergency session on the funds scandal early this morning after seven hours of discussion. Participants declined to reveal results of the meeting, but Saxony state Premier Kurt Biedenkopf characterised it as very constructive.
The presidium was first
to consider the audit report on the donations scandal.
But following the meeting, CDU Social Committee member
Rainer Eppelmann said nothing dramatically
new had been introduced.
Over 100 rebels die in Algerian offensive
ALGIERS, Jan 24 (Reuters) More than 100 rebels and 25 government soldiers were killed in fierce fighting in western Algeria, the newspaper Le Matin reported today.
The Daily said the battle was the start of a full army assault on hardline guerrillas who dismissed an amnesty offer by President Abdelaziz Bouteflika.
Government troops killed 70 terrorists on Saturday. Thirty-two other terrorists were killed on Friday in the huge operation, Le Matin said, in addition to the 25 soldiers killed on Thursday.
Among those killed was a female field commander, and about 230 guerrillas still holding out against the soldiers.
The big offensive promised by the authorities against rebel strongholds has started, Le Matin said.
El Watan daily reported on Saturday 32 rebels and 25 government soldiers were killed in the six-day battle in Relizane province, some 300 km west of Algiers.
The fighting pitting hardline armed Islamic group (GIA) rebels against government troops was still raging in the rugged Bourakba and Oursenis areas of the province, Le Matin said.
Indian mission not informed
WASHINGTON, Jan 24 (PTI) The Indian mission here has not been formally notified about the mass arrest and handcuffing of 40 Indian programmers at the Randolph Air Force base by the US Immigration and Naturalisation Service even four days after the incident.
No notification came to Indian missions either about these arrests or about the arrest of an Indian employed by the US Embassy in New Delhi, Rakesh Kumar Kashyap, for allegedly shaking down visa seekers to the USA, sources close to the embassy here said. This is unusual, they said.
The sources pointed out that they recognise that the law will take its own course but formalities have to be adhered to, and the USA is the first to protest to any host country if any American is arrested and no US official is allowed to meet them in jail.
Some 40 highly-qualified Indian programmers were arrested, handcuffed and paraded like ordinary criminals for not having their work permits on their person on Thursday. All of them, who entered the USA on valid H1-B visas, were released after being detained overnight.
Immigration authorities said the professional visa programme was being abused by India, China and Russia because the firms who bring them here ostensibly for working on their payrolls are really hired out to other companies a practice known as bodyshopping.
Observers, however, said the programmers can hardly be blamed for such practices, for that was the responsibility of the applicants who brought them here.
In interviews to the media, the arrested programmers complained that they were treated harshly and were not allowed to remove the handcuffs even to go to the washroom. It was a traumatic experience, one programmer said.
The programmers were brought to the USA by two Indian-owned firms, Softech and Frontier, and placed at the base by the Maryland-based ACS Government Solutions group, a contractor for making computer programmes for the air force.
Arkans suspected killer arrested
BELGRADE, Jan 24 (AFP) If the Serbian authorities expected a pat on the back after arresting the suspected killer of Serbian warlord Arkan, they were sorely disappointed today by the reaction of the Press and the Opposition.
While the opposition parties made political capital from the news that two of the three suspects held by the Belgrade police were ex-policemen, the local press declared that most questions regarding the assassination remained unsolved.
Two suspected accomplices were also arrested, it said.
Weizman not to quit
JERUSALEM, Jan 24 (AP) The Israeli President Mr Ezer Weizman, has said he is determined not to resign from office, despite the launching of a criminal investigation into allegations he did not properly report cash gifts from a former business associate.
I do not intend to
resign, he said in a live telecast. I repeat,
I do not intend to resign. In his statement, which
lasted just over a minute, Mr Weizman rejected calls that
he take a leave of absence while the investigation is
under way. That move, a step short of resigning, had been
proposed as a compromise.
Golden Globes for Cruise, Jolie
BEVERLY HILLS, (California), Jan 24 (AP) Tom Cruise of Magnolia and Angelina Jolie of Girl, Interrupted won motion picture supporting actor honours at Sundays Golden Globe awards.
And a poignant moment came when Michael J. Fox was named best actor for the TV comedy Spin City, which he announced he is leaving because of his fight against Parkinsons disease.
Wow. God, I didnt expect this, Cruise said. Then thanked wife Nicole Kidman, who couldnt attend because of work. Her generosity. Her support. Her sacrifices. Her talent she inspires me, he said.
Cruise plays a TV guru who pitches a seduce-and-destroy programme to men in the ensemble drama Magnolia.
Its great to see the view from up here, said Jolie, which plays a manic sociopath in Girl, Interrupted. The experience of it just being with people and being together and exposing ourselves to each other, said Jolie.
Sarah Jessica Parker of Sex and the City won best actress in a TV musical or comedy series.
American Beauty was the leading movie contender going in to the Sunday nights 57th Golden Globes, which often forecast what will come at the Oscars. The dark American suburban fable gained six Golden Globe nominations, including best dramatic picture, dramatic actress for Annette Bening, and dramatic actor for Kevin Spacey.
The Talented Mr Ripley, a tale of social envy that turns to murder, was close behind with five bids, as was The Insider, based on the story of tobacco-industry whistle-blower Jeffrey Wigand.
The leading television nominees were the mob drama. The Sopranos and the risqué comedy Sex and the City, with five bids each.
The awards are selected by reporters from the Hollywood Foreign Press Association.
Other top nominees included the films The end of the Affair and Being John Malkovich, which held four nominations each. Films with three bids included. The Hurricane and Notting Hill.
Boys Dont Cry, The Straight Story, Man on the Moon, Analyze This, Toy Story 2, An Ideal Husband, Sweet and Lowdown, The Cider House Rules, Magnolia, Anna and the King and The Sixth Sense had two bids each.
Barbara Streisand, winner of more Golden Globe trophies than any other entertainer, including best actress for Funny Girl and A Star is Born, was to receive the Cecil B. Demille award for outstanding contribution to the entertainment field.
Some movies that
received awards buzz were largely ignored. They included
The Green Mile starring Tom Hanks, Anna
and the King with Jodie Foster, and
Angelas Ashes starring Emily Watson.
Stanley Kubricks final film, Eyes Wide
Shut, received just one nomination for best score.
Catholics held in China
Heat wave claims
UAE Prince wins
house damaged by fire
Maoris object to
widow passes away
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