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Saturday, August 28, 1999
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Annan asks Jakarta to curb militias
UNITED NATIONS Aug 27 — United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan has asked Indonesia to assert control over the security situation in East Timor in the wake of violent clashes threatening to disrupt the August 30 referendum.



Yeltsin took bribes, says trader
ROME, Aug 27 — A man named as a key figure in a probe into a Kremlin financial scandal has accused Russian President Boris Yeltsin of accepting bribes, the Italian daily Corriere della Sera reported today.


A woman stretches out her hand for her relative on Friday as his coffin is closed on Friday during his funeral. He was killed by police during clashes between East Timorese pro-independence and pro-autonomy factions the previous day. — AFP

Putin’s surprise visit to Dagestan
MAKHACHKALA, Aug 27 — Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin arrived in the southern Russian region of Dagestan today for talks on improving security in the wake of a two-week rebel incursion.
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Pak to raise N-draft issue with USA
ISLAMABAD, Aug 27 — Pakistan today said it would take up India’s recently announced draft nuclear doctrine with the USA during next month’s UN General Assembly session, and alleged Delhi was planning to start an arms race in the region posing a danger to Islamabad’s security.

Taliban offers to talk on Laden
ISLAMABAD, Aug 27 — The Taliban renewed its offer of “readiness” for talks with the USA on Washington’s concerns over the presence of alleged international terrorist Osama Bin Laden in Afghanistan.

Human rights activists flay Pak Govt
ISLAMABAD, Aug 27 — Whether the Prime Minister, Mr Nawaz Sharif likes it or not, the clamour by Pakistani and foreign human rights groups for an end to discrimination against women continues to become shriller.

Oppn gears up to oust Sharif
ISLAMABAD, Aug 27 — In a concerted effort Pakistan’s opposition parties have decided to turn the heat on the Nawaz Sharif government with a series of public rallies and strikes in different parts of the country in the first week of September to kick off a mass movement for the ouster of the government.

‘ Guerrillas behind Uzbek kidnappings’
BISHKEK, Aug 27 — Kyrgyzstan said today some 1,000 guerrillas holed up in its southern mountains with hostages were Uzbek Islamic guerrillas planning to launch an uprising in neighbouring Uzbekistan.

Chemical weapons ‘used’ on Albanians
NEW YORK, Aug 27 — A Belgian scientist has claimed to have found evidence that Yugoslavia used chemical weapons on ethnic Albanians in Kosovo during NATO assault and before the peace-keeping forces arrived, a newspaper report said.

 
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Annan asks Jakarta to curb militias

UNITED NATIONS Aug 27 (Reuters, PTI) — United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan has asked Indonesia to assert control over the security situation in East Timor in the wake of violent clashes threatening to disrupt the August 30 referendum.

“It is crucial that, even at this late stage, concrete and effective steps be taken by Indonesia to control the militias who, it is increasingly clear, are intent on disrupting the popular consultation,” said deputy spokesman Manoel de Almeida e Silva in a statement on Thursday on behalf of the Secretary-General, reacting to the clashes between supporters and protesters of the autonomy proposal in Dili.

DILI (East Timor): East Timor’s main resistance body today accused Indonesian security forces of taking part in violence the previous day which killed at least five persons.

The National Council for Timorese Resistance in a statement signed by its leaders in Dili accused the Indonesian military and the police of involvement in the deaths, which occurred just days before a UN-run ballot on the territory’s future.

“Indonesian military was actively involved in the attacks and killings in Dili yesterday, showing that they are far from being neutral,” said the statement. “The Indonesian police stood by in some cases and as part of the killings in other cases”.

The National Council for Timorese Resistance said four persons died in what it called a “reign of terror”, whereas UN officials earlier said at least five persons had died.

Jakarta’s special envoy for East Timor Lopes Da Cruz separately accused independence supporters of starting the trouble, an allegation the council denied firmly.

Groups of young independence supporters were seen today hanging around the Dili suburb where the incident occurred, armed with bows and arrows. The area is a pro-independence stronghold.

Dozens of persons have died in East Timor since January and tens of thousands displaced in violence mainly blamed on armed militias, who are thought to be supported by elements of the Indonesian military.

On Monday, more than 400,000 East Timorese around the world will choose between independence or rule from Jakarta, which invaded the territory in 1975 and annexed it a year later.

Indonesia’s often brutal 23-year old reign over the former Portuguese colony is not internationally recognised.

A top UN official in East Timor strongly criticised the Indonesian police today for failing to curb violence in the territory and rejected criticisms that the world body had not done enough to prevent the bloodshed.

“Ever since our arrival our major concern has been the operation of armed pro-integration militia groups”, Ian Martin, Head of the UN mission in East Timor, said.

“That is where the bulk of the violence has been coming from and it is the failure to prevent those armed groups from moving around with weapons that has been the fundamental policing failure.”Top


 

Yeltsin took bribes, says trader

ROME, Aug 27 (AFP) — A man named as a key figure in a probe into a Kremlin financial scandal has accused Russian President Boris Yeltsin of accepting bribes, the Italian daily Corriere della Sera reported today.

Russian-born businessman Felipe Turover told the newspaper he was a witness in four investigations in Russia and Switzerland because of his longstanding high-level contacts in Russia.

He said Mr Yeltsin was “behind” Pavel Borodin, the Kremlin property manager — a powerful job that allows him to decide who wins contracts to service everything from Kremlin real estate to cars. Borodin is suspected of having taken bribes from Kosovar businessman, Bexhet Pacolli, in return for important construction contracts in Moscow.

“Behind Pacolli, there is Borodin and behind Borodin there is only one person, the most important of persons,” said Turover.

Asked by the newspaper who he meant, he added: “President Yeltsin, who still backs him (Borodin) because Borodin knows too much.”

The Kremlin yesterday denied that Yeltsin and his family had foreign bank accounts, as Corriere reported in an earlier article.

MOSCOW (Reuters): Russia’s acting Chief Prosecutor, Mr Vladimir Ustinov, said today the country’s security services had been ordered to look into Russian involvement in an alleged multi-billion dollar money laundering scheme at a US bank. Their findings would determine whether his office would launch a formal criminal investigation.

“But for this both our and foreign security services must look thoroughly into the matter,” a spokesman for the prosecutor’s office quoted Mr Ustinov as saying.

“If any wrongdoing on the part of Russian citizens or organisations is established, then we will have to initiate criminal proceedings,” he quoted Mr Ustinov as saying.

US and British authorities are investigating claims that Russian mobsters, businessmen and senior officials may have been funneling billions of dollars out of Russia through the Bank of New York, including aid from IMF.

The US probe into the bank of New York allegations, which U.S. newspapers say involve sums that may exceed 15 billion dollars, is the latest in a series of financial scandals to hit Russia.

In a separate case, Swiss prosecutors are probing possible corruption in the awarding of contracts to construction firm, Mabetex, to renovate Kremlin buildings.

WASHINGTON (DPA): The Clinton Administration has expressed concern over reports that several Russian officials, including President Boris yeltsin and his daughter, may have been involved in laundering as much as $ 15 billion through two US banks.

The report yesterday in the newspaper USA today quoted US, British and Russian investigators as saying at least five current or former members of Mr Yeltsin’s government were under investigation. One Russian prosecutor told the paper it was “hard to believe” Mr yeltsin himself was unaware of the operation.

The five under investigation were Mr Yeltsin’s daughter and adviser, Mr Tatyana Dyachenko, his former Chief of Staff and Finance Minister, Mr Anatoly Chubais, a former Deputy Prime Minister, Mr Oleg Soskovets, a former Finance Minister, Mr Alexander Livshits, and the former Deputy Chairman of the Russian Federation, Mr Vladimir Potanin.Top


 

Putin’s surprise visit to Dagestan

MAKHACHKALA, Aug 27 (AP) — Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin arrived in the southern Russian region of Dagestan today for talks on improving security in the wake of a two-week rebel incursion.

At least six settlements in western Dagestan were occupied on August 7 by Islamic rebels who crossed from nearby Chechnya. After a series of air raids and artillery shelling by Russian forces and several ground clashes, the militants withdrew earlier this week.

Mr Putin was to discuss how the impoverished region would restore villages that were almost completely destroyed during the conflict. Dagestan is also dealing with an estimated 10,000 refugees who fled the fighting.

So far, many refugees have not been allowed to return home because Russian security forces were clearing mines that the militants laid before they left.

Officials have said that 70 Russian army and Interior Ministry troops were killed in the conflict. Casualty estimates for the rebels varied widely, with the rebels claiming they lost 37 men, while the Russians claiming as many as 2,000 rebels were killed or injured.

A spokeswoman for Dagestan’s ruling State Council said by telephone Mr Putin arrived in the regional capital, Makhachkala and then immediately left for Botlikh district, where most of the fighting took place. His visit came a day after Russian planes bombed the camps of Islamic guerrillas in the breakaway region of Chechnya, neighbouring Dagestan.

The military press centre in Dagestan, contradicting earlier denials by the Russian Defence Minister and Chief of General Staff, finally confirmed that warplanes hit Chechnya. It said they bombed guerrilla bases and had not attacked villages.

Chechen officials said today the attacks had caused casualties, but a Reuters reporter on the scene was told by witnesses they knew of no injuries or deaths.

The Russian defence ministry said in a separate statement that 22 rebels had been seized and hundreds of landmines defused.

In a sign of growing tensions, gunmen attacked a television centre under construction in the province of Ingushetia, neighbouring Chechnya to the west, this morning.

Interfax news agency quoted Ingushetia’s acting chief prosecutor as saying the attackers apparently planned to kidnap Turkish construction workers employed at the site. One attacker had been killed and later identified as an Islamic guerrilla belonging to Chechnya’s Urus-Martan district.Top


 

Pak to raise N-draft issue with USA

ISLAMABAD, Aug 27 (PTI) — Pakistan today said it would take up India’s recently announced draft nuclear doctrine with the USA during next month’s UN General Assembly session, and alleged Delhi was planning to start an arms race in the region posing a danger to Islamabad’s security.

Foreign Minister Sartaj Aziz said he would raise the issue at his meeting with US Secretary of State Madeleine Albright and foreign ministers of several other countries on the sidelines of the session, the official APP news agency reported.

"We will raise this issue with the USA and other countries because India plans to start an arms race which poses danger to our security," APP quoted Mr Aziz as saying informally during an overseas Pakistanis’ convention here.

Pakistan’s Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif is scheduled to lead a large Pakistani delegation to the UN General Assembly session which he is slated to address on September 22.

Asked about any possibility of a direct Indo-Pak contact during the UN meeting, Mr Aziz said his meeting with his Indian counterpart Jaswant Singh had not yet been scheduled.

"There may be meeting in the corridors (of the UN)," he quipped. Top


 

Taliban offers to talk on Laden

ISLAMABAD, Aug 27 (AFP) — The Taliban renewed its offer of “readiness” for talks with the USA on Washington’s concerns over the presence of alleged international terrorist Osama Bin Laden in Afghanistan.

“We are ready to enter into negotiations any time, anywhere,” Taliban Information Minister Mullah Amir Khan Muttaqi told a press conference in Islamabad yesterday.

He said it was “neither in the interest of Afghanistan nor the USA to put so much emphasis on Osama.”

He said the Taliban had never allowed Bin Laden nor anyone else to engage in any terrorist activity from the Afghan soil.

The minister reiterated that Bin Landen, accused by the USA of masterminding last year’s twin East Africa Embassy bombings that killed more than 200 persons, was living in Afghanistan as “guest” of its people.

The minister said neither the USA nor anyone else had provided any evidence of Bin Laden’s alleged involvement in terrorist activities to the Taliban Supreme Court despite repeated calls by the militia.

AP adds: A truck bomb outside the home of Afghanistan’s Taliban leader was an assassination attempt by someone with access to “very sophisticated” material, said Taliban officials.

Taliban’s Information Minister Mullah Amir Khan Muttaqi told newspersons in Pakistan yesterday that an investigation into Tuesday’s powerful truck bomb was being conducted.

No arrests have been made, he said but “we can’t rule out a foreign hand. . . The material used was very sophisticated.”

Abdul Hai Muttmain, a spokesman at the Taliban’s headquarters in Kandahar, said the truck bomb was an attempt to kill the Taliban’s reclusive leader, Mullah Mohammed Omar.

But Omar, in an interview conducted yesterday by the Taliban’s official news agency, Bakhtar, called the assassination attempt a “conspiracy” by those who feared the Taliban’s brand of Islam.Top


 

Honour killings
Human rights activists flay Pak Govt

ISLAMABAD, Aug 27 (DPA) — Whether the Prime Minister, Mr Nawaz Sharif likes it or not, the clamour by Pakistani and foreign human rights groups for an end to discrimination against women continues to become shriller.

Demands for stricter legislation to stem the killing of women in the name of family honour — honour killings — have also been gaining strength since a young woman’s desire for separation from her husband was responded to with fatal bullets.

Samia Imran from Peshawar had fled her home to seek divorce through a legal aid centre run by Pakistan’s most vocal human rights activists, Ms Asma Jehangir and her sister Ms Hina Jeelani, in Lahore, 278 km east of Islamabad.

Samia Imran’s parents — her mother, a medical doctor, and her father, a prominent businessman — reacted by hiring an assassin who gunned down Samia in the legal aid centre in the presence of Samia’s mother and her counsel, Ms Hina Jeelani.

Though a case has been registered, the killers are still at large and the government’s promise to capture the murderers still remains unfulfilled.

“The government’s claim in condemning honour killings is a total farce as no action has been taken in seven such cases,’’ Ms Jehangir said in Lahore on Thursday. Her criticism followed the announcement of a new draft law that she thinks will legitimise honour killings.

The fierce debate that Samia Imran’s cold-blooded murder sparked also led to the introduction, in early August of a draft resolution in the Upper House of Parliament, the Senate.

Led by Opposition Senator Iqbal Haider, the resolution condemned the honour killings and demanded strict legislation to eliminate what has been termed a medieval social practice.

But soon after Mr Haider tabled the draft, most senators including those from the ruling party, the Pakistan Muslim League, withdrew their support. Some even defended the practice of killing women in the name of family honour, saying this saves the family from further indignation and contempt.

All of them, including the Minister for Information, Mushahid Hussein, chose later not to speak on the issue in public.Top


 

Oppn gears up to oust Sharif

ISLAMABAD, Aug 27 (PTI) — In a concerted effort Pakistan’s opposition parties have decided to turn the heat on the Nawaz Sharif government with a series of public rallies and strikes in different parts of the country in the first week of September to kick off a mass movement for the ouster of the government.

The combined opposition attack would be launched on September 1 in Lahore when the 15-party alliance Pakistan Awami Ittehad (PAI) with the backing of some other leading parties would hold a public rally against the Sharif government.

The rally would be the first show of strength by the opposition since the massive Jamaat-e-Islami rally on July 25 in the wake of the Kargil crisis which had sent shivers down the corridors of power in Islamabad.Top


 

‘ Guerrillas behind Uzbek kidnappings’

BISHKEK, Aug 27 (Reuters) — Kyrgyzstan said today some 1,000 guerrillas holed up in its southern mountains with hostages were Uzbek Islamic guerrillas planning to launch an uprising in neighbouring Uzbekistan.

Acting Kyrgyz Defence Minister Nuridin Chomoyev said the fate of captives seized by the fighters last weekend, including four Japanese geologists and a senior Kyrgyz military official, was unknown but their rough location had been discovered.Top


 

Chemical weapons ‘used’ on Albanians

NEW YORK, Aug 27 (PTI) — A Belgian scientist has claimed to have found evidence that Yugoslavia used chemical weapons on ethnic Albanians in Kosovo during NATO assault and before the peace-keeping forces arrived, a newspaper report said.

The findings of Aubin Heyndrickx, Director International Reference University Laboratories Ghent, showed that the Kosovar Albanians were attacked with BZ gas or a similar compound, which does not kill but causes disorientation and confusion, and is prohibited under the Chemical Weapons Convention, the New York Times said quoting Janes’ Defence Weekly.

The findings were immediately challenged by expert from the USA and the UN, the paper reported.

The scientist, invited by the Kosovo Liberation Army, went to the Balkans in May and took samples from Kosovar Albanians in two hospitals, one in Kosovo and the other in Albania.Top


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Global Monitor
  Sotheby’s ‘antique’ chairs made in ’90
LONDON: Four antique “Georgian’’ chairs sold by the respected Sotheby’s auction house for 1.3 million have turned out to be 1990 reproductions, Sotheby’s said. The mahogany armchairs were believed to have been made in 1759 and to have come from an English stately home. But Canadian scrap-metal millionaire Herbert Black, who bought a pair for 463,500 discovered they were reproductions. — Reuters

2 die in plane crash
TASHKENT:
An Uzbek passenger plane on an internal flight overshot the runway while landing and flipped over, leaving at least two persons dead and four others injured, officials said. The Yak-40 of the national airline, Hava Yulari, crashed at the airport in Turtkul as it was landing after a flight from the Capital Tashkent, officials of the Ministry of Emergency Situations said on Thursday. — AP

Huge cocaine haul
BOGOTA:
The anti-drug police seized 300 kg of pure cocaine on Thursday and arrested eight contract workers at a cargo warehouse operated by Colombia’s top airline Avianca in Bogota. The haul, wrapped in towels and packed in 10 boxes bound for Mexico, had an estimated value on US streets between $ 3.1 million and $ 10.8 million. — Reuters

Tunnel near border
RAFAH (Gaza Strip):
The Israeli army discovered a tunnel dug under the border between Egypt and the Palestinian-ruled Gaza Strip, a military spokesman announced. The tunnel, near Rafah at the southern end of the Strip, was 6.5 metres below the surface. It was 95 centimetres high and 45 centimetres wide, he said on Thursday. — AFP

USA warns Croatia
WASHINGTON:
The USA warned Croatia on Thursday of “the gravest possible consequences’’ if it failed to cooperate with the International Tribunal set up in The Hague to deal with war crimes in the former Yugoslavia. On Wednesday, the UN tribunal reported Croatia to the Security Council for failing to help in an investigation into two attacks against Serbs in 1995. — Reuters

Blasts in Colombia
BOGOTA:
At least seven small bombs were detonated outside savings and loans companies in the Colombian capital overnight, causing widespread damage but no injuries, local media reported. The police here was not immediately available to confirm details of the wave of attacks, which began shortly before midnight and continued into the early hours of Friday. — Reuters

Male infertility
WASHINGTON:
A diet low in selenium could be one of the causes behind male infertility, according to a report published in the US journal ‘Science’ on Friday. The role of selenium on infertility among mice and cattle is already known. Scientists up to now believed that one of the main roles of selenium was to act on the protein that protects the sperm cells to prevent them from oxidizing. — AFP
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