|W O R L D||
Sunday, December 26, 1999
|Russian troops launch assault on
GROZNY, Dec 25 Russian forces have launched their long-announced assault to capture the Chechen capital Grozny today, advancing from several fronts.
Bin Ladens call to Muslims
MOSCOW, Dec 25 Fugitive Saudi terrorist Osama Bin Laden has again declared that India, America and Russia continue to remain main enemies of Islam in the light of yesterdays hijacking of the Indian Airlines plane.
LAHORE: A young militant standing before a banner that reads "American attacks on Osama bin Laden's camp could not stop us," sells posters to collect money to support activities of militants, in Lahore on Saturday. The US State Department has issued an alert to its citizens to be cautious over the Christmas and New Year's holidays because of an apparent plot by supporters of Saudi terrorist Osama bin Laden to target US interests. AP/PTI
smuggler may be Pak-trained
Premier names new govt
Xmas for church
Russian troops launch assault on Grozny
GROZNY, Dec 25 (AFP) Russian forces have launched their long-announced assault to capture the Chechen capital Grozny today, advancing from several fronts, as officers warned soldiers to be careful for their lives.
Col Nikolai Zaitsev, commanding Interior Ministry troops entering the city from the east, told his assembled soldiers: We know where we are going and we will proceed carefully. The main thing is to look after your lives, be careful.
The offensive began at the stroke of midnight, according to military sources cited by ITAR-TASS news agency, but an AFP correspondent at the scene on the eastern outskirts had not observed any large-scale troop movements by early Saturday.
Under a cold grey sky, Russian officers poured over maps as a massive artillery barrage was unleashed on the city, in which Moscow believes some 2,000 well-armed Chechen guerrillas are dug in.
At the rear base, in the Mikroraiyon suburb, only small reconnaissance units were moving forward into the residential centre of Grozny while the main body of Russian Interior Ministry troops were waiting for final orders to go in.
Pro-Moscow Chechen volunteers under Grozny former Mayor Bislan Gantamirov were leading the offensive on the rebel capital, followed by the Interior Ministrys crack SOBR and OMON troops, Colonel Zaitsev said.
Regular army units were not involved, he said.
However, Interfax news agency quoted the Chechen Deputy Chief of Staff, Aslanbek Ismailov, as saying fierce fighting had erupted in the city in the early morning as federal forces advanced towards the centre from several directions.
And according to an Interfax correspondent in Grozny, Russian armoured columns clouded by smoke to protect them from rebel fire were advancing from the outskirts of the city towards Chechen positions in the centre.
The crackle of heavy arms fire and the thud of exploding shells reverberated from all sides, the report said.
A massive artillery barrage began overnight and at the moment shells are exploding nearly every minute, the Interfax correspondent said.
The ITAR-TASS news agency said 500 pro-Moscow Chechen volunteers were already driving forward from three sides towards the centre of Grozny.
The private NTV
television station reported that the Russian push came
from all sides, from the southern district of
Chernorechiye, the north-western suburb of
Staropromyslovskaya, Khankala on the eastern outskirts
and around Severny airport, 5 km north of the city.
Bin Ladens call to Muslims
MOSCOW, Dec 25 (UNI) Fugitive Saudi terrorist Osama Bin Laden has again declared that India, America and Russia continue to remain main enemies of Islam in the light of yesterdays hijacking of the Indian Airlines plane.
Osama asked Muslims to continue waging war in Kashmir valley, Chechnya and central Asian regions. This is a war against the infidels the Voice of Russia reported last night while quoting extensive excerpts from an interview by his personal spokesman to Pakistani media.
Anybody disobeying the instructions of the clergy to carry out their decrees against the infidels will be regarded as apostates Bin Laden declared.
Interestingly today Russian government has also indicated that international Islamist terrorist organisations are poised for undertaking major act against India, Russia, America and few other countries. The Soviet governments view has been made public by its information centre in Moscow.
The danger is impending, the Centre warned while referring to hijacking of Indian plane yesterday.
Russia has received information about explosives being made in Europe. The centre further said, Evidently international terrorism is out on a global warpath.
Hubble ready to study space
CAPE CANAVERAL, Dec 25 (Reuters) Space-walking astronauts completed their overhaul of the Hubble space telescope on Christmas eve, readying it to make what scientists hope will be new discoveries about the mysteries of deep space.
Steve Smith and John Grunsfeld left the space shuttle Discoverys air lock yesterday for the third of three space walks set for the mission, which found the Hubble disabled in space but restored it to its status as the finest observatory ever built.
Ah, John, another beautiful day outside, Smith called back to Grunsfeld as he entered the shuttles cargo bay, where the four-storeyed Hubble was latched to a service platform. Look at that earth.
The two astronauts were working to replace a broken radio transmitter on the Hubble and install a solid state recorder in place of the telescopes older reel-to-reel model.
Grunsfeld had the hardest job of the day replacing the transmitter. Unlike much of Hubbles hardware, it was not designed for easy servicing in space.
Wearing bulky space gloves that were pressurised to protect him from the vacuum of space, Grunsfeld had to disconnect and reconnect a series of coaxial cables thinner than those found on home VCRs.
Even with a special tool NASA had designed to make the job easier, it took more than an hour and Grunsfeld had to stop and rest his hands at one point.
Grunsfeld had more trouble with his suit when it was time to return to the air lock. An electrical problem with the suit was the main reason the astronauts were about an hour late pressurising the air lock, said Linda Ham, the shuttle flight director.
In the end, each of the three space walks on the mission ran over eight hours. Officials cited various reasons, including the difficulty in estimating the time it takes to perform certain tasks in weightlessness based on the simulations and training done on the ground.
Ground controllers ran tests on the new systems as soon as they were installed, and even before the spacemen had finished their scheduled seven-hour walk, NASA declared that all important mission objectives had been met.
Explosives smuggler may be Pak-trained
WASHINGTON, Dec 25 (UNI) The authorities in the USA believe that the Algerian man arrested for allegedly trying to smuggle explosive materials into the country may have been trained in Afghanistan or Pakistan.
US investigators were quoted as saying that while there are indications linking Ahmed Ressam to terrorist groups, so far no connection has been established with the alleged international terrorist network led by Osama bin Laden.
Initially, the investigators believed that Ressam might have been trained in Afghanistan, but later learned that he might have received training in Pakistan too.
Ressam was arrested earlier this month while entering Washington state in north-western USA and was allegedly trying to bring explosive materials inside the country.
In another important development yesterday, the US State Department said it was seriously concerned about the safety and security of American citizens throughout Pakistan.
The department issued this caution in the wake of serious terrorist threats facing American citizens within and outside the country.
Meanwhile, the USA today
found itself facing a fresh terrorist threat following a
warning that some terrorists might be sending mail bombs
to addresses in the country through packets from
Algerian Premier names new govt
ALGIERS, Dec 25 (AP) Algerian Prime Minister Ahmed Benbitour has named a new government of 30 ministers, one day after he was appointed by President Abdelaziz Bouteflika, the official press agency APS said, quoting an official statement yesterday.
Electric Xmas for church
LONDON, Dec 25 (Reuters) An English church celebrated Christmas this year by electric light after 900 years of worshipping by candlelight.
|French former PM dead
PARIS: Maurice Couve of Murville, who overtook Talleyrand as Frances longest-serving Foreign Minister before becoming Finance and Prime Minister, died on Friday, aged 92, the Neo-Gaullist RPR party said. A diplomat known for his exquisite manners and dry wit, Couve de Murville was President Charles de Grulles Foreign Minister for 10 years running, still the longest tenure of the office in more than two centuries of French history. Reuters
Emergency landing due to
longest undefended border
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