|Tuesday, April 25, 2000,
mass grave found
action casts shadow on talks
crackdown on Press
taken hostage on Malaysian isle
Benazir to face more graft cases
farm burnt in Zimbabwe
Another mass grave found
KAMPALA, April 24 (Reuters) The Ugandan police today said they had found what they suspect could be another mass grave used by leaders of the Ugandan doomsday cult believed to have murdered around 900 of their followers.
Police spokesman Eric Naigambi said the police had cordoned off a house rented by cult leader father Dominic Kateribabo in a suburb of the Capital Kampala, after locals noticed a strong smell coming from the ground.
We have sealed off the house until we investigate it further, Mr Naigambi said, adding that the police had not yet begun digging.
Nearly 400 corpses, many of women and children, were unearthed last month in several mass graves in South West Uganda in houses belonging to the movement for the restoration of the 10 commandments of god.
Around 500 cult members were burned alive in a church at Kanungu in the same region on March 17.
The police believes that cult leaders had been systematically killing their followers for months after a prediction that the world would end failed to come true.
The landlord of the house in Kampala, Moses Ssengendo, told local newspapers that he had rented the property to Kateribabo for over a year, but that cult members had suddenly abandoned the house just before the Kanungu blaze.
LTTE action casts shadow on talks
COLOMBO, April 24 (AFP) The Sri Lankan Armys setback at the hands of Tamil Tiger rebels has dimmed the prospects of Norwegian-backed peace talks getting off the ground soon, political analysts here said today.
The (LTTE) captured the strategic base of Elephant Pass over the weekend after a month of heavy fighting and have escalated attacks against government forces in the Jaffna peninsula.
Tigers are now eyeing Jaffna and it is difficult to imagine they want to sit down and talk just yet, said a Tamil legislator, Mr Dharmalingam Siddharthan, of the anti-LTTE Democratic Peoples Liberation Front.
Mr Siddharthan said the LTTE seemed to be focusing on wresting control of Jaffna, north of Elephant Pass, to win back prestige and work towards setting up an independent homeland.
PTI adds: After claiming to have taken over two strategic army garrisons at the gateway to northern Jaffna, the LTTE appears to have begun its final assault into the heart of the heavily populated peninsula by capturing a village on the highway leading to Jaffna town.
Reports from the north said the clandestine LTTE radio, the Voice of Tigers, in its morning broadcast on morning claimed to have captured Soronapattu, a village located north of Lyakachchi and Elephant Pass army garrisons which had been captured by the rebels on Sunday.
The capture of Soronapattu was seen here as part of the rebels strategy to keep up its momentum to capture Jaffna town. Most of the 17,000 odd troops who were withdrawn from the two garrisons had reportedly started regrouping beyond Sornapattu to halt further advance of the rebels into the peninsula, where about six lakh civilians reside.
There was no way to independently verify the LTTEs claims as telecommunication facilities to the peninsula have been disrupted for over a week.
LTTE radio said that so far its forces have lost 35 men in the campaign to capture the garrisons , which the rebels claim to be a major victory in their struggle for creating a separate homeland for Tamils.
It also said that its cadre had recovered a host of modern weapons including new 152 M.M. artillery guns recently imported by the army from China along with a number of battle tanks and other military hardware and transport vehicles.
The Sri Lankan Army had said last night that the troops, which had been ordered to withdraw from certain sections of the Elephant Pass garrison, destroyed most of the weapons that could not be moved out, including the high powered transmission tower.
Irans crackdown on
TEHRAN, April 24 (AP, ANI) The authorities stepped up their crackdown on the liberal press, closing five newspapers and detaining an editor, several journalists said.
The managing editor of a pro-reform newspaper, Latif Safari, was detained in Tehrans Evin prison yesterday, his son Amir-Hossein told the Associated Press. On Saturday, the countrys top investigative reporter, Akbar Ganji, was questioned in court, arrested and taken to the same prison.
A press court ordered the closure of the reformist dailies Fath, Asr-e-Azadegan, Aftab-e-Emrooz, Arya as well as the leftist monthly Iran-e-Farda, journalists at each of the publications said on condition of anonymity.
The editors of Fath, Asr-e-Azadegan and Iran-e-Farda met yesterday to decide their next move, journalists said. They were not expected to defy the court order. The news of the closure of Aftab-e-Emrooz and Arya came later.
The Justice Department suspended 12 pro-reform journals, including eight newspapers, for ignoring previous warnings to halt publication of material that disparaged Islam and the religious elements of the Islamic revolution.
The official IRNA news agency said today the publications were part of the cultural assault of the foreign enemies of Iran.
The Justice Department said the tone of material in those papers had hurt the feelings of devout Muslims at home and even the leader the Islamic revolution Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, the news agency reported.
Last week, supreme leader Khamenei had said elements of the Press had been turned into bases of the enemy.
The actions are seen as part of a long-running campaign against the reformist media by the judiciary, which is controlled by hard-liners. The hard-liners regard the greater freedoms introduced by President Mohammad Khatami since his election in 1997 as a betrayal of the principles of the 1979 Islamic revolution.
Safari, the managing editor of the banned daily Neshat, is the third journalist to be imprisoned this month.
He was sentenced in September to more than two years in jail, but he appealed and lost, Amir-Hossein said. He had been convicted on charges ranging from insulting Islam to provoking riots with his articles about an attack on a Tehran University dormitory by police and hard-line vigilantes last July.
Neshat was ordered closed last September after articles questioning the validity of Irans Islamic eye-for-an-eye law of retribution as well as the use of the death penalty.
The press court jailed investigative journalist Akbar Ganji, a thorn in the side of the regimes conservatives, on Saturday, while Neshats former editor-in-chief Mashallah Shamsolvaezin was imprisoned on April 10.
Newspapers have flourished since Khatami was elected in 1997, injecting an increasingly vocal and often brazen presence into Irans political life.
On the other hand, the ban order evoked angry reactions from the journalist fraternity. An editor of a banned journal said he and his colleagues would fight the order and ensure that the closed publications were opened as soon as possible.
Readers also strongly criticised the ban order. The conservatives have signed their own death warrant by closing down the newspapers. They dont know this is the beginning of the end for them, said one elderly man, angry that his daily, Asr-e Azadegan, was no longer on the news-stands.
President Khatami, himself a former newspaperman, had encouraged an independent Press as part of his campaign for a civil society. Under his rule, public life became much more relaxed.
One reformist analyst said the crackdown on the Press was likely to be accompanied by other tough measures against President Khatamis cultural liberalisation.
22 taken hostage on Malaysian isle
KUALA LUMPUR, April 24 (AP) Six heavily armed masked assailants have taken about 21 people, including foreign tourists, hostage on a remote resort island in eastern Malaysia, police said today.
The abductors surprised and captured the group on a beach on Sipadan island last night, a police officer in Semporna told AP by telephone.
Sipadan is a world-renowned diving island off the northeast coast of Sabah, the Malaysian side of Borneo island, which is shared with Indonesia.
Two foreign tourists managed to escape, the police officer said, speaking on condition of anonymity.
Police said the hostage takers were believed to be Filipinos. The hostages were said to have been taken onto a boat and are now at sea.
Foreign Minister Syed Hamid Albar said all the hostages were safe. He said the information was conveyed to the ministry.
When asked by reporters if the Malaysian Government had any information on the armed hostage-takers, Syed Hamid said: I think the authorities are taking the necessary steps to get them released from their captors.
Philippine officials said they were investigating a possible link between the hostage-taking in Malaysia and Filipino rebels who took hostages last month on a southern Philippine island in the same waters as Sipadan.
Malaysias Foreign Minister, contradicting earlier reports that many of the hostages were Americans, said the group now included two French tourists, three Germans, two South Africans, two Finns, one Lebanese and two Filipono tourists.
MANILA (Reuters): Philippine authorities ordered the navy and air force on alert today after gunmen kidnapped around 20 hostages from a resort island in east Malaysia. The gunmen, who kidnapped foreign tourists, Malaysian government officials and resort workers from Sipadan island yesterday night, were last seen heading for Philippine waters, Defence Secretary Orlando Mercado said.
We have alerted our regional offices, Philippine National Police Deputy Chief Reynaldo Wycoco told reporters after a meeting with Malaysian Ambassador M.H. Arshad.
We have also requested some action from the Philippine Air Force, the Philippine Navy and the (Armys) southern command.
Mr Mercado told CNN that the kidnappers were Filipinos speaking Tausug, a dialect used in the Mindanao region of the southern Philippines.
Sharif, Benazir to face more graft cases
ISLAMABAD, April 24 (PTI) Former Pakistani Prime Ministers Nawaz Sharif and Benazir Bhutto would face a number of corruption references filed by the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) in the near future, NAB Chairman, Lieut-Gen Syed Mohammad Amjad has said.
Apart from the already filed references against Mr Sharifs or Ms Bhuttos family members, a number of other mega corruption cases would also be moved against them, he said.
So far, three references Ittefaq Foundary, Mi-8 chopper and Hydaibya had been filed against Mr Sharif and other members of his family, he said.
General Amjad, however, hinted that the Sharifs would face references in cases like Raiwind, motorway, SROs, yellow cabs and many more, though there would be a number of people who would be facing cases in the cooperative scam.
He said all possible steps would be taken to prevent sale of the London flats owned by the Sharif family, though he deliberately avoided to disclose the mode to be applied for prevention of the sale of these flats.
Once the process is completed in Pakistan, the London court will be applied that these flats should not be allowed for sale as these are built on ill-gotten money, he said.
General Amjad said during his 49-hour stay in London, he met Mr Rehman Malik, who provided him important information which helped him trace a major case to be surfaced soon.
By the time I met Malik, my team also acquired that information. Had he met me earlier, our efforts would have been saved, he remarked.
On being asked about any drug-related case against Mr Sharif, he said there is no drug-related case against Sharif and I am not in the know of any complaint by anyone that the Sharifs had transferred and deposited drug money abroad.
Another farm burnt in Zimbabwe
HARARE, April 24 (Reuters) Zimbabwean war veterans torched another farm overnight, abducted a black foreman and beat up his labourers as violence flared again today in a bitter land dispute.
The tobacco barns are burning on Dean Farm, a farm support group spokesman told Reuters by the telephone from the Wedze area, 120 km east of the capital.
I just flew over the place. You can see they have killed cattle and sheep as well, he said. We have also been told they beat up several workers on the next door farm and took the foreman away in handcuffs saying they would kill him.
Some 100 km north of the capital, a farm manager, his girlfriend and another woman spent the night trapped in the 22,000 hectare Forresters farm, surrounded by 700 veterans, followers and farm workers.
A source in the local farm contact group said the manager, Duncan Hamilton, had made contact to say the group was well, but still hostage.
Duncan just rang. He said there was lots of noise last night, with drums and the like, but they were okay, he said. At least two other farms in the Marondera area east of Harare were occupied aggressively but peacefully yesterday.
The occupations came
less than 48 hours after the leaders of South Africa,
Mozambique and Namibia gave President Robert Mugabe a
ringing endorsement for his handling of the land crisis
that has brought the country to the brink of chaos.
Elians photos genuine: dad
WASHINGTON, April 24 (AFP) New photos of Cuban castaway Elian Gonzalez enjoying Easter with his father Juan Miguel Gonzalez were released to refute charges made by the Miami relatives that an earlier photo had been doctored.
The fathers attorney dismissed as absurd the forgery charges.
The latest photographs were made available yesterday to the news media by representatives of the father after the Miami relatives from whom US federal agents forcibly removed Elian in a pre-dawn raid on Saturday charged that an earlier photo was not genuine.
The six-year-olds cousin Marisleysis and great-uncle Lazaro had followed the boy to the US capital. Marisleysis told a press conference yesterday that the length of Elians hair in a photo released Saturday, and widely reproduced in the US media, gave away the fact that it was a forgery.
But the fathers attorney Greg Craig dismissed Marisleysis allegations as absurd.
Her assertions were also promptly rebutted by Immigration and Naturalization Service Commissioner Doris Meissner, who said she had no reason to question the authenticity of the pictures.
US Deputy Attorney General Eric Holder said he did not think Elian would be speaking for himself. It seems to me that a 6-year-old is way too young to make those kinds of life-altering decisions by himself, he told ABC.
INS Commissioner Doris Meissner agreed. His father speaks for him. He is with his father, she said.
Meissner said the raid was completely legal and that the ins agents who seized the boy had a warrant to enter the house duly issued the night before.
The first polls suggested U.S. Public opinion supported the raid. A poll broadcast on CNN showed 57 per cent of Americans supported the way in which Elian was seized, while 37 per cent opposed it, with more men than women backing the raid.
dead in fresh Maluku violence
Five killed in
House on fire,
man in tub
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