|W O R L D||
Wednesday, December 15, 1999
|Russians enter rebel stronghold
MOSCOW, Dec 14 Russian troops today entered Shali, the last key Chechen rebel stronghold apart from the capital Grozny outside their control, Itar-Tass news agency, quoting federal military sources, said.
Khan tipped to be Pak President?
SLEPTSOVSKAYA, RUSSIA: A Chechen refugee woman carrying small children runs to a bus heading back into Chechnya from neighbouring Ingushetia on Monday, December 13. Many refugees are heading back home as they hear that fighting has died down, though airstrikes continue in some regions. AP/PTI
Barak wins vote for peace talks
JERUSALEM, Dec 14 In his first major test on the road to peace with Syria, Prime Minister Ehud Barak has won narrow parliamentary backing for opening negotiations with Damascus.
Pak SC takes away licence to kill
ISLAMABAD, Dec 14 The Pakistan Supreme Court has severely criticised certain sections of the controversial Anti-terrorist Act which allows law-enforcing agencies to open fire on anyone suspected of being involved in terrorism and also declares strikes, go-slows and lockouts as terrorist acts, and directed the army regime to make suitable amendments.
Benazir faces murder
threat to unfurl Islamic flag
to outlaw terrorists funds
years jail for assaulting black
Russians enter rebel stronghold
MOSCOW, Dec 14 (AFP, Reuters) Russian troops today entered Shali, the last key Chechen rebel stronghold apart from the capital Grozny outside their control, Itar-Tass news agency, quoting federal military sources, said.
Shali, 20 km southeast of Grozny, has been completely blockaded by Russian forces since Friday.
The Russian army had given residents a deadline there until yesterday to hand over the rebel fighters before cleansing the town.
Town elders indicated that the troops would not encounter any opposition when they entered the area.
If there are any fighters left (in Shali) they will be exterminated, said General Trochev, head of operations in the east of the rebel republic said yesterday. We dont want bloodshed, but war is war, he added.
Meanwhile, thousands of Chechen civilians were trapped in Grozny today, saying they were afraid to leave because of Russian shelling.
In a rare dispatch for a western news organisation from the Chechen capital a Reuters correspondent said explosions of shells could be heard constantly.
Russia has promised to set up safe corridors to allow civilians to escape the besieged capital, but so far only a few hundred Chechens have done so. Where can we go? They will not let us out through these corridors, if they even exist, said Khadizhat, a woman trapped in Grozny with her children.
Residents said there had been no air strikes against Grozny for several days, but shelling in and around the city was constant. Small groups of armed men roamed the rubble-strewn streets, which were otherwise eerily quiet.
OSCE head Knut Vollebaek, who was visiting the region on Wednesday has urged both sides in the conflict to call a truce near Grozny to allow the civilians to escape. Under Western pressure, Russia rescinded an ultimatum issued last week saying it would kill anybody who remained in the city after December 11.
CHIRI-YURT (Russia): Russia launched fierce attacks in southern Chechnya on a gorge leading to rebel strongholds, while its troops were reported today to be sweeping through a key southeastern town of Shali.
Shells tore into the village of Chiri-Yurt at the mouth of the Argun river gorge leading into the mountains 20 km south of Grozny after dusk on Monday, shooting clouds of orange smoke into the sky and sending panicked residents scurrying for cover.
Rebel spokesman Movladi Udugov said Russian forces had launched attacks on Groznys eastern outskirts through freezing mist at dawn yesterday. Battles had lasted all day in three areas, including the Khankala military airport east of the city.
The fighting was followed by fierce Russian shelling, although the Chechens drove Moscows forces from Khankala after they briefly seized it, Mr Udugov said.
A Russian defence ministry spokesman said as far as he was aware the airport remained in Moscows hands.
Southern of Chechnya also came under artillery assault as the focus of Russias campaign shifted from the lowlands to rebel-controlled mountains there.
Russia has now captured almost all of the broad central valley south of Grozny which forms the Chechen heartland, as well as the empty steppes in the north.
A Chechen rebel web site said today rebels had shot down two Russian jets and three helicopters during yesterdays strikes on settlements in the Argun gorge.
Russian news agencies quoted officials as confirming a single jet and a helicopter had crashed, saying they said they had either been shot down or suffered some kind of accident.
The northwestern Grozny suburb of Staropromyslovskaya was also captured today by the troops whose artillery strikes were targeting the outskirts to prevent the militants from breaking out. Russian troops also renewed its bombardment of Grozny after a brief weekend ceasefire.
Meanwhile, reports said
several dozen Russian soldiers were killed in the battle
with rebels and the troops also lost more than 10
armoured vehicles. Six Russian soldiers were killed while
trying to rescue the pilot of a downed Sukhoi. Quoting
military sources, Interfax said the soldiers were killed
yesterday when their helicopter flipped over in mid-air
after coming under fire from Chechen rebels.
Yaqub Khan tipped to be Pak President?
ISLAMABAD, Dec 14 (PTI) Former Foreign Minister Sahibzada Yaqub Khan is tipped to be the next president of Pakistan as military ruler General Pervez Musharraf is reportedly contemplating replacing Mr Muhammad Rafiq Tarar before restoring democracy in the country, a news agency report said today.
Before levelling ground to hold general elections in the country, the chief executive wishes to make an important change at the highest level, Domestic Inter-news Agency said quoting an official.
The official, who did not wish to be named, said Gen Musharrafs legal adviser Sharifuddin Pirzada has advised him to replace President Tarar with someone neutral and respected to which the military ruler has agreed.
Sahibzada Yaqub Khan, heads the list of the three being considered and is the most suitable for the presidents office the official said.
He was Pakistans foreign minister during the military regime of Gen Zia-ul Haq in the early 1980s and was again appointed as such during the interim government after dismissal of the Benazir Bhutto government in November 1996.
Barak wins vote for peace talks
JERUSALEM, Dec 14 (AP) In his first major test on the road to peace with Syria, Prime Minister Ehud Barak has won narrow parliamentary backing for opening negotiations with Damascus.
The 47-31 vote with 24 abstentions yesterday signalled just how deeply divided Israelis are over what Mr Barak called the painful price of peace with Syria understood to mean all of Golan Heights.
Several members of Mr Baraks own coalition abstained from the largely symbolic vote, a barometer of the tough battle ahead for the national referendum Mr Barak has promised on giving up the Golan Heights.
Thousands of Golan settlers and their backers demonstrated outside Parliament as Mr Barak delivered his policy speech on peace with Syria, warning him that they would not leave their homes without a bitter fight.
Mr Barak is to have a two-day meeting with Syrian Foreign Minister Farouk Al-Saharaa in Washington starting tomorrow, the series of talks made possible by intensive US mediation.
Hoarse with flu, Mr Barak told Parliament that renewing the negotiations was a milestone in the painful historic process toward a comprehensive peace between Israel and its neighbours.
Our supreme responsibility is to act today so that we will not dig new rows of graves tomorrow in a conflict that could have been ended, he said.
Though Mr Barak insisted he made no promises to Syria in advance of the talks, opponents accused him of setting a precedent for trading land for promises of security.
So youve already reached Jerusalem, heckled hawkish Likud member Uzi Landau, reflecting concern that now Mr Barak would compromise over West Bank settlements and Jerusalem for peace with the Palestinians.
About 17,000 Israelis live in 33 Golan Heights settlements.
Likud leader Ariel Sharon warned that after giving back the Golan, Mr Barak would order settlers in the West Bank to leave to serve as a sacrifice for the cynicism of power, pursuing momentary political gains and temporary comfort.
Appearing unconcerned, Mr Barak smiled as Mr Sharon spoke, and chatted with Foreign Minister David Levy, who will accompany him to Washington for the talks.
DUBAI (UNI): After a break of nearly four years, Syria and Israel are set to relaunch their peace talks in Washington tomorrow.
Pak SC takes away licence to kill
ISLAMABAD, Dec 14 (PTI) The Pakistan Supreme Court has severely criticised certain sections of the controversial Anti-terrorist Act which allows law-enforcing agencies to open fire on anyone suspected of being involved in terrorism and also declares strikes, go-slows and lockouts as terrorist acts, and directed the army regime to make suitable amendments.
A five-member bench headed by Chief Justice Saiduzzaman Siddiqui in a detailed judgement yesterday declared the sections invalid as it was repugnant to the Constitution and required to be suitably amended.
The bench observed that if the provision allowing law-enforcers to open fire were given effect it would create, horrible and far-reaching consequences. The law enforcement agencies cannot be given licence to kill indiscriminately any person who is allegedly involved in committing terrorism.
Such a right is to be exercised as a preventive measure and not made a basis for launching an attack for retaliation, lest it would be tantamount to legalising alleged encounters/extra-judicial killings in the garb of exercise of power by the police, the court said.
Benazir faces murder charge
ISLAMABAD, Dec 14 (UNI) Former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto will be tried in absentia for the 1996 killing of two Jamaat-i-Islami activists.
PPP vice-chairman Syed Yousaf Raza Gilani told newpersons in Multan that Ms Bhutto had no plans of returning to Pakistan in the near future to stand trial in the case registered by the Rawalpindi police at the directions of the Supreme Court, but the party will contest in court the murder charges brought against its chairperson and two other top party leaders.
The former Prime Minister went into exile last year to evade arrest following her conviction on several counts of corruption. She has already been declared a proclaimed offender by the new military rulers.
Her husband, Asif Zardari, a member of the suspended Senate, is already in jail for alleged involvement in the killing of Murtaza Bhutto who died in police firing while leading a protest against his sisters government.
The Rawalpindi police were last week directed by an apex court bench to register a first information report(FIR) and launch criminal proceedings against Ms Bhutto, her former interior minister Naseerullah Babar, former Punjab Chief Minister Arif Nakai and three top district officials in the double murder.
The case involves the
killing of two Jamaat-e-Islami party activists in
Rawalpindi on June 24, 1996 when Ms Benazir Bhutto was
Prime Minister. The police had refused to register a
murder case and instead booking some Jamaat-e-Islami
activists for opening fire from the party office.
Ultras threat to unfurl Islamic flag
ISLAMABAD, Dec 14 (PTI) Two Pakistan-based religious extremist groups, encouraged by the toughening of the military regimes stand on Kashmir, have launched verbal offensives against New Delhi, with one going to the extent of warning that its jehad in India was going to spread beyond the Kashmir valley and the Islamic flag would be unfurled on the Red Fort, media reports said today.
Kashmir is only
our base camp. The real war will be inside India as we
consider Himachal Pradesh as the door to
jehad in India. Very soon we will enter India
via Doda and unfurl the Islamic flag on the Red
Fort, Hafiz Mohammad Saeed, chief of
Lashkar-e-Toiba, a front-ranking Pakistan-based militant
group, told Urdu daily Ausaf.
UN to outlaw terrorists funds
UNITED NATIONS, Dec 14 (IPS) The United Nations has adopted a new international convention designed to cut off worldwide, all direct and indirect funding for terrorist activities.
Ambassador Philippe Kirsch of Canada, Chairman of a UN working group that finalised the convention yesterday, said this was the first time that fund-raising for terrorist activities had been formally established as an independent crime.
There is no need for an act of terrorism to be committed, he told reporters, because the convention criminalises the very act of providing or collecting funds with the intention or knowledge that those funds will be used to carry out a terrorist act.
Mr Kirsch said that although there was no legal definition of terrorism, there were universally accepted norms of what constituted an act of terrorism.
The new convention made it very clear that terrorism cannot be justified on political grounds under any circumstances.
States parties to the convention were expected to pass national legislation that would ensure that criminal acts covered by the convention were in no way justifiable by considerations of a political, philosophical, ideological, racial, ethnic, religious or similar nature.
officially titled the International convention for the suppression of the financing of terrorism, the 28-article treaty will become law only after 22 ratifications. The convention will be open for signature at UN headquarters from January 10, 2000, to December 31, 2001.
Mr Kirsch said the present treaty against fund-raising, the 10th international convention against terrorism, was part of a new generation of conventions. The 1997 international convention against terrorist bombings was the first such treaty after a lapse of 10 years, he added.
The convention also called on financial institutions to pay special attention to unusual or suspicious transactions, a novel approach which some observers believed would add substantial strength and enforcement opportunities to the network of interlocking conventions.
States parties will also
be required to cooperate with and assist other countries
in investigations and preventive efforts. For example,
they cannot refuse a request for mutual legal assistance
on the ground of bank secrecy.
Romanian PM sacked
BUCHAREST, Dec 14 (AFP) Romanian President Emil Constantinescu sacked his Prime Minister Radu Vasile early today, a presidential spokesman announced.
Mr Vasile was sacked because he had refused to quit despite the fact that more than half his Cabinet had tendered their resignations in a bid to force his ouster, said spokesman Rasvan Popescu.
The decision was taken after a lengthy meeting between the President, the leaders of the ruling coalition and the 10 ministers who resigned from the 17-member Cabinet.
The President of Romania has revoked the functions of Prime Minister Radu Vasile, the spokesman said.
The move climaxed days
of growing pressure on Mr Vasile from his own ruling
Christian Democrat Party and an attack by President
Constantinescu. The Prime Minister has faced particular
criticism over the pace of reforms as Romania seeks to
join the European Union.
30 years jail for assaulting black
NEW YORK, Dec 14 (AP) A white former patrolman was sentenced to 30 years in prison for an assault on a black immigrant that prosecutors called one of the worst acts of police brutality in the city history.
Justin Volpe could have faced life without possibility of parole.
I hurt many people. I was and still am ashamed. I am extremely sorry, Volpe said in a statement to US District Judge Eugene Nickerson yesterday.
The victim, Haitian immigrant Abner Louima, was sodomised with a broken broomstick in a police station bathroom and hospitalised for two and-a-half months.
Prosecutor Alan Vinegard
asked Mr Nickerson to impose the maximum, saying Volpe
had engaged in a pattern of self-serving lies to cover up
the attack, including contending that Louimas
injuries were caused by gay sex.
|Try abusers of rights: Wahid
JAKARTA: Senior Indonesian military officers accused of human rights abuses should be tried, President Abdurrahman Wahid said Tuesday, over-riding objections by his own Defence Minister. If they issued the orders themselves, if they did the atrocities themselves then they have to stand trial, Mr Wahid told BBC television. Reuters
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