Monday, April 3, 2000,
Chandigarh, India





THE TRIBUNE SPECIALS
50 YEARS OF INDEPENDENCE

TERCENTENARY CELEBRATIONS
W O R L D

65 LTTE men die in fighting
COLOMBO, April 2 — At least 65 Tamil Tigers and nine soldiers were killed in heavy fighting in Iyakachchei near the Elephant Pass in north of Sri Lanka during the past 24 hours even as the army launched a new operation to recapture from the LTTE the main supply route connecting Jaffna and the Elephant Pass.

Probe rights violations in Chechnya, Russia told
MOSCOW, April 2 — United Nations Human Rights Commissioner Mary Robinson has called on Russia to make a "credible response" to Human Rights Violations by Russian Forces in Chechnya.

UN Human Rights Commissioner Mary Robinson (right) listens to a Chechen woman on a train as she visits the refugee camp near the village of Ordzonikidevskaya in Ingushetia on Saturday
UN Human Rights Commissioner Mary Robinson (right)
listens to a Chechen woman on a train as she visits the
refugee camp near the village of Ordzonikidevskaya in
Ingushetia on Saturday. — AFP photo

Niaz Naik leaves for Delhi: report
ISLAMABAD, April 2 — Former Pakistan Foreign Secretary Niaz a Naik, who hit the headlines because of his "back-channel talks" with Indian leadership during the Kargil conflict last year, has suddenly left for New Delhi to hold "secret meetings" with Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee and some of his close aides, a media report said here today.



EARLIER STORIES
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Israeli city turns into mini-India
EILAT (S. Israel), April 2 — One of the most attractive tourist of Israel, the small and beautiful city of Eilat, with a small population on the country’s southern tip nowadays looks like a mini-India as over 1,000 Indian naval personnel on a goodwill mission flood all its places.

Kulsoom Nawaz’s advice to workers
ISLAMABAD, April 2 — Begum Kulsoom Nawaj, wife of deposed Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, today asked her party workers to take to the streets in protest in case the verdict of the anti-terrorism court, trying Mr Sharif, went against him. Begum Kulsoom, addressing party workers’ rally in Lahore, said she will lead the protest rally.

Elian Gonzalez chases his pet rabbit Esperanza, which means "hope" in Spanish, as he plays in the backyard of his relative's home on Saturday, in Miami. Gonzalez's Miami relatives are no longer are willing to hand over the 6-year-old boy to his father if he comes to Florida from Cuba to await the outcome of their court appeal to keep the boy in the United States
Elian Gonzalez chases his pet rabbit Esperanza, which means "hope" in Spanish, as he plays in the backyard of his relative's home on Saturday, in Miami. Gonzalez's Miami relatives are no longer are willing to hand over the 6-year-old boy to his father if he comes to Florida from Cuba to await the outcome of their court appeal to keep the boy in the United States. — PTI photo

Uganda cult deaths toll crosses 1,000
KANUNGU, (Uganda) April 2 — Uganda’s Vice-President Specioza Kazibwe today said the official figure of the number of people killed by the doomsday restoration of the Ten Commandments of God Cult had reached 1,000.

Israel warns Syria
JERUSALEM, April 2 — Israel today threw down the gauntlet to Syria, warning that it risked an escalation of violence in Lebanon if it sent troops to the border region following an Israeli army withdrawal.

Chandrika refuses to pull out troops
COLOMBO, April 2 — In the mid of the six-day major offensive by the LTTE to capture the northern Jaffna peninsula, Sri Lankan President Chandrika Kumaratunga today refused to withdraw troops from the north and east without a comprehensive agreement with the rebels.

Queen disarms Republicans
PERTH (Australia), April 2 — The issue of republicanism that could have wrecked Queen Elizabeth’s tour of Australia ended up largely responsible for its success.

‘Hidden’ human trade in USA
NEW YORK, April 2 — As many as 50,000 women and children from Asia, Latin America and eastern Europe are brought to the USA under false pretences each year and forced to work as prostitutes, abused labourers or servants, according to a Central Intelligence Agency report cited by the New York Times today.

Elian’s kin willing to obey US law
MIAMI, April 2 — Local relatives of Elian Gonzalez, the Cuban boy at the centre of a heated international custody battle, have reiterated that they will obey the US law in the matter, but asked that the boy be independently evaluated before any decisions are made.

Mt. Usu erupts for fifth time
DATE (Japan), April 2 —Japan’s Mount Usu volcano erupted for the fifth time, spewing clouds of black ash and steam far into the air as thousands of people took shelter.
Top




 

65 LTTE men die in fighting

COLOMBO, April 2 (UNI) — At least 65 Tamil Tigers and nine soldiers were killed in heavy fighting in Iyakachchei near the Elephant Pass in north of Sri Lanka during the past 24 hours even as the army launched a new operation to recapture from the LTTE the main supply route connecting Jaffna and the Elephant Pass.

Military sources said the troops successfully repulsed a pre-dawn attack early this morning after an intense fighting in which at least 35 Tigers were killed. The troops recovered 22 bodies of young female LTTE cadre from the scene of action. A large number of Tigers wounded have escaped with their casualties.

The sources said nine soldiers were also killed and 60 injured.

Meanwhile, the Sri Lankan army has launched a new operation to take control of a small stretch of road on the main supply route between Jaffna and the Elephant Pass which was fallen to the LTTE a few days ago. Though the army managed to open an alternative route to ensure supply to the strategic Elephant Pass base camp, the main supply road between Pallali and the Elephant pass, a distance of 10 km, still remain broken.

More than 100 soldiers have been killed and over 600 injured in six days of battle near the Elephant Pass while the LTTE casualty is estimated to be more than 300 besides injuring well over 500.

The sources said several attempts made by the LTTE to infiltrate army-controlled areas through the Kilali lagoon too were repulsed. A senior army officer said the army has managed to bring the situation at the Elephant Pass well under control after readjusting their defences at some areas. Top

 

Probe rights violations in Chechnya, Russia told

MOSCOW, April 2 (DPA) — United Nations Human Rights Commissioner (UNHRC) Mary Robinson has called on Russia to make a "credible response" to Human Rights Violations by Russian Forces in Chechnya.

The former President of Ireland on a visit to the area today, said the violations were ‘’so consistent and so serious’’ that Russia had to take action, according to a BBC report.

Mrs Robinson was speaking after being mobbed by refugees at a camp in Ingushetia on Chechnya’s western border.

She headed for the devastated capital, Grozny, and a notorious detention centre north of the city.

Mrs Robinson said she realised that Chechen fighters had also been involved in violence against civilians, but attacked what she called the disproportionate Russian response.

"The most important step is that there is a full ownership and responsibility of the Russian authorities, and a truly credible response to the scale and repetition of violations," she said.

"It’s not one or two, it is so consistent and so serious.’’

Earlier, she told Tass news agency that she was a friend of Russia, but one who was determined to speak the truth. She said those accused of human rights abuses should face trial.

Human rights pressure groups have alleged that Russian forces raped, tortured and executed Chechen civilians. Some of the worst reports have come from the Chernokozovo detention centre, which she plans to visit.

Mrs Robinson, after inspecting refugee camps in the Russian republic of Ingushetia, said she was shocked by the Chechens’ "desperate situation" in tent cities. Ingushetia has given refuge to 200,000 people from Chechnya.

The Russian Foreign Ministry’s approval for Mrs Robinson’s trip to Chechnya came after a long delay which followed the U.N. Commissioner’s repeated criticism of human rights breaches by Russian troops.Top

 

Uganda cult deaths toll crosses 1,000

KANUNGU, (Uganda) April 2 (AFP) — Uganda’s Vice-President Specioza Kazibwe today said the official figure of the number of people killed by the doomsday restoration of the Ten Commandments of God Cult had reached 1,000.

"The official figure reached 1,000 dead. I believe there will be more than that," Ms Kazibwe told reporters as she arrived to attend a solemn inter-faith remembrance service in Kanungu, a small southwestern town where the cult was based.

Ms Kazibe did not give the breakdown of the latest official figures. Earlier estimates had said about 400 cult followers died in a fire at a church have on March 17, while some 400 bodies have been discovered across the region in several mass graves linked to the cult.

"There are other graves that have not been investigated," she said, adding that the cult followers had been assassinated.

She believed the leaders of the cult were still alive and that they could represent a threat to other followers.

The death toll is now greater that that of the 1978 Jonestown mass suicide in Guyana, which left 913 members of a cult dead. Top

 

Israel warns Syria

JERUSALEM, April 2 (AFP) — Israel today threw down the gauntlet to Syria, warning that it risked an escalation of violence in Lebanon if it sent troops to the border region following an Israeli army withdrawal.

But Israeli ministers also played down the likelihood of such a move, first raised by Lebanese Defence Minister Ghazi Zaayter on Friday as one of his country’s "best bargaining chips" with Israel.

"Any deployment of the Syrian army in southern Lebanon after our withdrawal from the region in July would be unacceptable because it would create a new front line — but I’m sure Damascus does not want that," said Israeli Communications Minister Binyamin Ben Eliezer, who is close to Prime Minister Ehud Barak.

"It would mean that with each border incident, Israeli and Syrian soldiers would find themselves face to face," he told Israeli radio.

But he described Mr Zaayter’s remarks as "meaningless" and insisted that Israel’s pullout from Lebanon after 22 years of occupation would take place in July as planned.

Israeli radio also quoted Mr Barak as saying that any such move by Syria was not feasible and that Mr Zaayter’s comments reflected a "certain embarrassment on the other side," without any stationing of Syrian troops in southern Lebanon would be a "violation of all the rules," including the 1978 UN Security Council resolution. No 425 that calls for Israel’s withdrawal "forthwith." Top

 

Chandrika refuses to pull out troops

COLOMBO, April 2 (PTI) — In the mid of the six-day major offensive by the LTTE to capture the northern Jaffna peninsula, Sri Lankan President Chandrika Kumaratunga today refused to withdraw troops from the north and east without a comprehensive agreement with the rebels.

Kumaratunga said she would consider declaring cease-fire only if there was progress in the proposed talks with the LTTE under Norwegian facilitation.

"I will not allow the withdrawal of troops even if I am killed. However, as and when the talks with the LTTE progress, a de-escalation could be considered," Mrs Kumaratunga told the state-owned Sunday Observer in an interview.

The President’s observations are close on the heels of a recent escalation of the battle in northern Sri Lanka, with the rebels pounding government position in south-eastern peninsula.

The ongoing talks with the opposition United National Party (UNP) to reach a southern consensus, Mrs Kumaratunga said, would continue till mid-May as the hopes to restrict the talks to a time-frame "had not been possible."

Commenting on the talks with the UNP, she said they were "satisfactory" and that "the discussions are going on smoothly...We have got down to the brasstacks."

Talks during April would be held only once as both the leaders, Mrs Kumaratunga and Mr Wickremesinghe, would be out of the country, the paper said.

The discussions were presently centring on the devolution of power to the provinces, with the emphasis on strengthening democratic structures. The unit of devolution, an area of controversy, "had been held back for discussion at a later phase because of its complex character," the newspaper said.

Mrs Kumaratunga reiterated her statement on the government’s assent to the Norwegian government to provide medical treatment to LTTE adviser Anton Balasingham. Top

 

Niaz Naik leaves for Delhi: report

ISLAMABAD, April 2 (PTI) — Former Pakistan Foreign Secretary Niaz a Naik, who hit the headlines because of his "back-channel talks" with Indian leadership during the Kargil conflict last year, has suddenly left for New Delhi to hold "secret meetings" with Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee and some of his close aides, a media report said here today.

The "track-II" diplomacy has been initiated once again, the report in leading Urdu daily "Jang" added.

It said Pakistan’s Foreign Minister Abdul Sattar and his Indian counterpart Jaswant Singh would be in Colombian capital, Bogota, next Friday, with both facing each other again in Havana five days later.

The report assumes significance in the backdrop of India turning down the military regime’s first formal offer for talks two days back.Top

 

Queen disarms Republicans

PERTH (Australia), April 2 (Reuters) — The issue of republicanism that could have wrecked Queen Elizabeth’s tour of Australia ended up largely responsible for its success.

After the Australians voted in a referendum last November in favour of keeping the British monarch as their head of state, there had been fears among royal officials that disappointed Republicans might be tempted to sour the welcome accorded to the royal visitor.

Indeed when the Queen touched down in Canberra more than two weeks ago, there were a handful of Republican demonstrators on hand to greet her.

But they were not a harbinger of things to come and Republicans were as polite to the Queen as the Monarchists, even if the women members of the movement did not curtsey.

The only security scares came when an unemployed man was arrested in Sydney and found to have a knife taped to his leg, while in Tasmania a tomato thrown from the crowd during a royal walkabout hit Prince Philip’s Hatbrim.

It was the Queen, however, who handled the Republican question in a stately manner that kept her above politics and won her wide praise.

The future of the monarchy in Australia, the Queen said in a speech in Sydney during her first major public appearance on the tour, was a matter for the Australian people and for them alone to decide by democratic and constitutional means.

"In the light of the result last November, I shall continue faithfully to serve as Queen of Australia under the constitution to the very best of my ability as I have tried to do for the past 48 years," the Queen said.

The Republicans made clear that their quarrel was with Australia’s current constitution and not with the Queen herself.

As she toured the country, comparisons were inevitably made with her first visit to Australia in 1954, when vast crowds turned out to see the newly crowned monarch.

On this, her 13th trip to Australia, numbers were well down, even though the tour took her through many staunchly monarchist areas.

While the Queen did not ruffle Royalists or Republicans, Prince Philip did not disappoint connoisseurs of the royal saffe.

By declining to wear sterile clothing during a visit to a cheese factory in Wagga Wagga, the Prince was accused of contaminating thousands of dollars worth of lemon myrtle flavoured ricotta.

And in the outback town of Bourke, the Prince reduced onlookers to helpless laughter when he was shown a device for measuring soil moisture called a piezometer, but decided it must really be a "pissometer".Top

 

Israeli city turns into mini-India

EILAT (S. Israel), April 2 (PTI) — One of the most attractive tourist of Israel, the small and beautiful city of Eilat, with a small population on the country’s southern tip nowadays looks like a mini-India as over 1,000 Indian naval personnel on a goodwill mission flood all its places.

Dressed in white naval uniform, the stockily-built men of the seas, hailing from all parts of India, can be seen walking around, sitting under palm trees or eating Israeli felafel, the most popular snack here, at roadside.

"It looks so beautiful to see so many Indians in white in this small city, they look almost marching through the beaches, they look so musical," said Yakob, a shopkeeper who immediately plays the popular "Dil to Pagal Hai" song whenever the men in uniform pass by.

Walking in groups — big or small — they are distinct from a long distance as their white uniform stands in contrast.

Over 1,000 Indian Naval officers and sailors are in Israel aboard three warships on a goodwill visit here as guests of Israeli navy and ministry of defence.

The first day I was scared seeing so many people who looked like defence personnel of another country, but they are so warm people," a local resident said.

A good number of Jews of Indian origin live in and around Eilat and for them it is an opportunity to mix up with people of their origin.Top

 

Kulsoom Nawaz’s advice to workers

ISLAMABAD, April 2 (UNI) — Begum Kulsoom Nawaj, wife of deposed Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, today asked her party workers to take to the streets in protest in case the verdict of the anti-terrorism court, trying Mr Sharif, went against him. Begum Kulsoom, addressing party workers’ rally in Lahore, said she will lead the protest rally.

The central committee of the Pakistan Muslim League (PML) will meet here tomorrow to discuss the future line of action on the much-awaited April 6 verdict.Top

 

‘Hidden’ human trade in USA

NEW YORK, April 2 (DPA) — As many as 50,000 women and children from Asia, Latin America and eastern Europe are brought to the USA under false pretences each year and forced to work as prostitutes, abused labourers or servants, according to a Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) report cited by the New York Times today.

The paper said the carefully annotated and exhaustively researched report painted a broad picture of this hidden trade and of the difficulties that government agencies faced in fighting it.

It said the report was based on more than 150 interviews with government officials, law-enforcement officers, victims and experts in the USA and abroad, as well as investigative documents and a review of international literature on the subject.

Law-enforcement officials have seen episodic evidence for years of trafficking in immigrant women and children, some as young as nine years old. But the report says officers generally do not like to take on these cases because they are difficult to investigate and prosecute.Top

 

Elian’s kin willing to obey US law

MIAMI, April 2 (AFP) — Local relatives of Elian Gonzalez, the Cuban boy at the centre of a heated international custody battle, have reiterated that they will obey the US law in the matter, but asked that the boy be independently evaluated before any decisions are made.

"We have and will continue to obey the laws of this country," the boy’s great uncle Lazaro Gonzalez said yesterday in a statement distributed by family spokesman Armando Gutierrez.

The family also restated their desire for the boy’s father, Juan Miguel Gonzalez, to come to their home without official intervention.Top

 

Mt. Usu erupts for fifth time

DATE (Japan), April 2 (AFP) —Japan’s Mount Usu volcano erupted for the fifth time, spewing clouds of black ash and steam far into the air as thousands of people took shelter.

The eruption took place from a crater on the north-western peak of the 732-metre (2,415 feet) volcano yesterday at about 2.00 p.m. (10.30 IST), said a written statement from the meteorological agency.

"Black smoke in medium volume was moving south-east," soaring to a height of 2 km, the agency said.

Superheated steam and ash was now billowing from more than eight craters on the shuddering mountain in Japan’s northern island of Hokkaido.Top

 
WORLD BRIEFS

Beatles to write memoirs
LONDON: The three surviving members of the Beatles have come together once again to write the definitive account of life in the world’s most famous band, a British newspaper reported on Sunday.Sir Paul McCartney, George Harrison and Ringo Starr spent six years working on the book, entitled "Beatles Anthology’’, according to the Sunday Telegraph. The 360-page book will be published in the UK and the USA this autumn and will cost about 50, raising about 1 billion. — Reuters

Kohl’s steps to check phone taps’ release
BERLIN: Former German Chancellor Helmut Kohl was on Saturday reported to have taken legal steps to prevent the release of phone conversations of his aides tapped by Communist East German spies during the cold war. Mr Kohl, under investigation over a campaign finance scandal, moved to stop publication of records inherited by the government from the defunct Communist East German state that might undermine his defence against breach of trust charges. — Reuters

Church wants Charles to marry Camilla
LONDON: The Archbishop of Canterbury, George Carey, wants Prince Charles and Camilla Parker bowles to formalise their long-standing relationship, a British newspaper said on Sunday. Mr Carey, the spiritual head of the world’s 70 million Anglican Christians, is believed to favour a civil wedding ceremony followed by a church blessing, the Sunday Times said. "Even a civil marriage followed by a service of dedication would be preferable to the current arrangements,’’ a senior bishop said in the paper. — Reuters

Foot-and-mouth disease in S. Korea
SEOUL: South Korea’s government-run quarantine service said on Sunday it had confirmed that the livestock illness reported at the town of Paju last week was foot-and-mouth disease. The confirmation in a statement from the National Veterinary Research and Quarantine Service came hours after authorities said a fresh outbreak of suspected foot-and-mouth disease had been reported at Hongsong, 110 km south-west of Seoul. — Reuters

Unemployment in Japan
TOKYO: Japan has for the first time admitted increasing unemployment as the price to be paid for its economic recovery from a 10-year recession. Japanese Finance Minister Kiichi Miyazawa told reporters on Saturday that he expected further rise in the rate of unemployment in the coming months when much of the latest crop of high school and college graduates would inevitably fail to find jobs. — PTI

Austrians ‘prefer’ perfume to bath
VIENNA: Austrians prefer a splash of perfume instead of a bath — and a good meal more than anything to do with personal hygiene, according to a new study. Barely 50 per cent of Austrian men even bother with underarm deodorants, compared to 66 per cent of women among the 8,000 respondents to the survey by the Linz-based Imas Institute. Over half the respondents said they often go more than a day without bathing, turning instead to cologne or perfume. — DPA

UK opens probe into Internet bungle
LONDON: Britain’s Defence Ministry has opened an investigation into how a detailed NATO plan for the rules of engagement in Kosovo turned up on the Internet, a British newspaper said on Sunday. The nine-page document began flashing up on screens at a London publishing company, the Sunday Telegraph said. — Reuters

Wade Senegal’s new President
DAKAR: Senegal’s new President Abdoulaye Wade has been sworn in the presence of 60,000 people, eight African leaders and the heir to the Moroccan throne. Mr Wade (74), who ended Abdou Diouf’s 19-year hold on power and 40 years of de facto one-party government when won a clear victory in the elections on March 19, said at his investiture ceremony on Saturday at a packed stadium in Dakar that "democracy exists, it is within reach of all Africans and the Senegalese have proved it". — AFPTop

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