|Sunday, September 17, 2000,
Commonwealth threatens Pak with
Rebel camps bombed
50 LTTE rebels killed
Pak to roll out Super-7 fighter
Ethnic Indians resort to suicides
Putin was misguided on
Commonwealth threatens Pak with suspension
UNITED NATIONS, Sept 16 (Reuters) Commonwealth Nations, impatient for the return to democracy in Pakistan, have warned that country that it could face the ultimate sanction of suspension from the 54-nation group.
They also expressed continued dissatisfaction with the overthrow of the democratic government in Fiji.
Secretary-General Don Mckinnon said yesterday the 11-member Commonwealth Ministerial Action Group agreed there were no grounds to soften its stance or ease the suspension of both countries from the organisations council.
We made abundantly clear to the Pakistani Foreign Minister (Abdul Sattar) that unless a firmer timetable was achieved (for restoring democracy) we would have no alternative but to recommend to the next commonwealth heads-of-government meeting to take stronger measures, Botswana Foreign Minister Mompati Merafhe said.
The ultimate, of course, is suspension from the commonwealth, he told a news conference.
Mr Sattar pleaded in vain with the Commonwealth Ministerial Action Group for greater understanding for last years military coup, which overthrew an elected government widely regarded as corrupt.
The current Commonwealth policy is tantamount to sympathy for the corrupt regimes and penalisation of those who seek to devise ways and means to curb corruption and promote good governance, Mr Sattar said.
The ministers agreed only to offer technical assistance requested by Pakistan in preparing electoral rolls.
General Pervez Musharrafs military government has said the country would return to democracy by October 2002 but the Commonwealth wants a firm timetable for an earlier return to parliamentary democracy.
On Fiji, the ministers heard pleas both from ousted democratic Prime Minister Mahendra Chaudhry, an ethnic Indian taken hostage by ethnic Fijian gunmen and overthrown earlier this year, and from the head of the south pacific countrys interim government, Laisenia Qarase.
The ministers viewed with concern that the interim administration in Fiji is itself the product of the unconstitutional overthrow of an elected government, and its actions, therefore, lack both legitimacy and credibility, a statement said.
They also voiced concern
that a planned new constitution would incorporate
restrictions on a racial basis, and asked Mckinnon to
appoint a special envoy to act as a facilitator in the
return to democracy.
Rebel camps bombed
JOLO (Philippines), Sept 16 (AFP) The Philippines launched a massive but risky military operation today to rescue 22 hostages held by Muslim rebels on the southern island of Jolo, President Joseph Estrada said.
Details of casualties or the condition of the one American, two French, three Malaysian and 16 Filipino hostages after the pre-dawn onslaught have not been known, but military sources said scores of people could have been wounded or killed in the operation.
In a nationwide television broadcast, Mr Estrada said he ordered the troops to move in after all efforts towards a negotiated settlement of nearly five-month crisis were exhausted.
He said the military intervention was a difficult decision and that he was aware of the grave risks that the hostages and our soldiers would face.
Military aircraft pounded Abu Sayyaf rebel hideouts with bombs, and communication and transport links with Jolo were cut off almost immediately and the entire island plunged into darkness after a power cut.
Hours after the military raid, French President Jacques Chirac expressed his lively concern and disagreement with Mr Estrada, saying that he held Manila responsible for the safety of the western hostages.
However, top government negotiator Roberto Aventajado said the panel including Libyan mediator Rajab Azzarouq, which was negotiating with rebels and had secured the freedom of several hostages earlier, had been disbanded.
The bombing of the rebel camps, which are ringed with villages, forced hundreds of residents to flee, a local official said. The Jolo town hall was filled with evacuees.
The military operation was led by Brigadier General Narciso Abaya. Air strikes followed a night of gunfire under heavy rain.
Government sources said thousands of soldiers accompanied by armoured personnel carriers and military trucks arrived in Jolo on a warship.
Mr Estrada indicated during dinner with visiting us defence chief William Cohen yesterday that the military operation would be launched today.
50 LTTE rebels killed
COLOMBO, Sept 16 (PTI) The Sri Lankan army today claimed to have killed 50 LTTE rebels in separate encounters in the countrys north and east since yesterday.
The army launched a limited offensive from the newly acquired areas in Colombuthurai near Jaffna town yesterday in which 26 rebels were killed, an official press release said here.
The troops used rocket-propelled grenades (RPG), machine guns, artillery and multi-barrel rocket launchers to attack militants when they attempted to flee from their fortified bunkers, it said.
Ten more rebels were killed in another confrontation in the same area yesterday, it said, adding that the troops recovered large quantities of weapons left by rebels who fled from the area.
Seven militants were killed in sporadic fighting in other areas in the Jaffna peninsula, the release said.
Fighting also took place in the LTTE northern Vanni region where the army attacked identified rebel targets with artillery, it said, adding that five rebels were killed in those attacks.
Two more rebels were killed in Batticloa district yesterday, it added.
Referring to last weeks two army offensives in Jaffna town, the release said the LTTE had so far acknowledged the loss of 392 cadres.
AFP adds: The Sri Lankan police stepped up already tight security here today, a day after a suicide bomber killed seven and raised fears of more bombings ahead of next months parliamentary elections.
Colombos police chief Bodi Liyanage said they had information that at least 23 suicide bombers known as Black Tigers had entered the capital together with another 15 rebels deployed for spying missions.
We have information that they will try to create trouble in the run-up to the elections, Mr Liyanage said.
That is why I have banned any political meetings along main roads and junctions, he added.
Mr Liyanage said tight security would be enforced for election campaign rallies here to prevent bombings by the LTTE.
The police on Thursday concluded a two-day operation to clear the city of some 75 street urchins who are believed to be used by the Tamil rebels for intelligence gathering.
A suicide bomber had
made a devastating attack on President Chandrika
Kumaratunga at her final campaign rally here on December
18. Ms Kumaratunga was wounded in the attack while 26
others were killed.
Pak to roll out Super-7 fighter
ISLAMABAD, Sept 16 (PTI) Pakistan will be able to roll out the first prototype of the Super-7 fighter aircraft, which is being developed in collaboration with China next year, a top official has said.
The Super-7 aircraft project was going as per plans, Chief of Pakistan Air Staff, Air Chief Marshall Parvez Mehdi Qureshi, told reporters yesterday after inaugurating first ever Pakistan Air Force art exhibition here.
Qureshi said some difficulties were being encountered due to sanctions imposed by the western countries but they were exploring alternatives to ensure timely completion of the project, he said.
Some of the equipment for the fighter aircraft might come from the west which might lead to some delay, he said.
Asked about allegations
of kickbacks in PAF deals, the Air Chief said let
the government make inquiry if something illegal has
happened, adding, however, that sometimes the press
brings about reports which are not correct.
Ethnic Indians resort to suicides
TORONTO, Sept 16 (AP) A suicide trend among youths is once again ravaging northern Ontarios Indian communities, with one reserve reporting near nightly attempts by teenagers as young as 13 and 14.
Twenty youths have died on reserves across the provinces north this year, Mr Jim Morris, a health adviser to the regions top native political organisation, Nishnawbe-Aski Nation, said yesterday.
The problem is the most serious in the Pikangikum First Nation, a community living about 300 km northeast of Winnipeg, Manitoba, which made national headlines after a wave of suicides and attempts in the summer of 1994.
Chief Peter Quill said in an interview yesterday that the six suicides among teenagers in Pikangikum since January were only a tip of the iceberg. He spoke during a break from an emergency meeting of chiefs and crisis workers in his troubled community.
Mr Morris said the latest spate of suicides showed quite young persons were resorting to it and more girls were now committing suicides. A group of Pikangikum youths recently hanged themselves after sniffing gasoline.
Northern Ontario has the highest suicide rate in Canada, almost three times the national average, Mr Morris said, and Pikangikum, Webequie and Kingfisher First Nation had already experienced a string of suicides since the early 1990s, he added.
A news release issued yesterday called for help from all levels of government to address the problem as well as the community pain, sadness and sorrow.
Despite financial aid suicides are shooting up again after three years lull, said Mr Dan Kooses, Deputy Grand Chief for Nishnawbe-Aski Nation.
Leaders are now desperately seeking a lasting solution, Mr Kooses said, and they are willing to look into the underlying factors such as sexual abuse.
Adult obesity growing worldwide
WASHINGTON, Sept 16 (AFP) Obesity, long a problem of industrialised nations, can weigh heavily on developing countries too as these nations amid economic advances that create more urbanisation and a shift in eating habits.
Experts gathered this week in Washington for the second annual American Obesity Association Conference sounded the alarm about he situation in poorer countries where malnutrition, not obesity, is usually the cause for concern.
Socio-economic transitions are most often accompanied by what experts have termed a nutritional transition modified eating habits and decreased physical activity leading to a rapid increase in the number of obese people in a community.
The epidemic of adult obesity is a worldwide phenomenon, here of course, but also in Asia. Latin America and Africa, especially in urban areas, said Larry Atkinson, president of the association and a Professor of Medicine and Nutritional Sciences at the university of Wisconsin.
Obesity which is linked to numerous medical problems and premature deaths is defined by experts through a body mass index calculated by a formula using height and weight. An index of 25 is considered overweight and 30 or greater is considered obese.
Obesity in Asia is accelerating with recent Chinese statistics showing 12 per cent of men and 16 per cent of women are obese, in Malaysia, three men in 10 are obese and in the Philippines, its one in 10.
In some Latin American countries, the percentage of the population that is overweight is comparable to the 59 per cent in the USA. In Mexico, for example, 58 per cent of the population is overweight and 23 per cent is obese.
Obesity also plagues middle eastern countries, with 35 per cent of Egyptians considered obese, a greater proportion than the population in the USA at 20 per cent. In Saudi Arabia and Kuwait, the numbers are also high; 16 per cent of Saudi men and 24 per cent of Saudi women are dangerously overweight, and one in three Kuwaiti men and two in five Kuwaiti women are considered obese.
In Africa the phenomenon is primarily confined to urban areas.
For Barry Popkin, a nutrition specialist at the university of North Carolina, many factors explain this disquieting trend, most specifically a massive shift in the structure of diet.
For reasons nutritionists are at a loss to explain, the intake of fats and sugars explodes as peoples incomes increase.
Edible oils have become very cheap, and as their income goes up, people increase the fat content of their diet very rapidly, Popkin said, noting the glut of processed foods and sugar-saturated sodas flooding the markets.
Putin was misguided on Kursk tragedy
MOSCOW, Sept 16 (AFP) Former Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev spoke out in favour of Russian President Vladimir Putin, but added that Putin had been misguided by inaccurate information during the Kursk crisis, Interfax reported.
I think there was
a moment when Putin was deprived of valuable
information, Gorbachev said yesterday, referring to
Putins failure to interrupt his vacation and seek
international help during the last months Kursk
submarine disaster in which 118 sailors died.
against Diana crash verdict
Rains claim 19
Thai banker to
on terrorist list
not wearing condom
dogged by snag
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