Belgrade Crash Called Assassination Try
BELGRADE--Serbian opposition leader Vuk Draskovic suffered minor injuries in a car crash yesterday that killed his brother-in-law and three bodyguards. Afterward, Draskovic called the incident an assassination attempt.
Draskovic, leader of the Serbian Renewal Movement, was riding in a car with the four other men when their vehicle collided with a truck that swerved into its path. The truck driver then fled. "It is an assassination attempt; those who organized it should consider what will happen to them," Draskovic told Studio B television. He did not elaborate.
The Serbian Renewal Movement has so far refused to join daily demonstrations against Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic organized by the Alliance for Change, the other main opposition group. Draskovic has described the street rallies as a waste of time, saying Milosevic should be defeated at the ballot box. He has also warned that Milosevic is ready to use force to stay in power.
Meanwhile, Zoran Djindjic, leader of Alliance for Change, said Milosevic allies plan to provoke violence to create a pretext for a crackdown on his opponents. The warning came as more than 15,000 demonstrators turned out in Belgrade for the 13th consecutive day of protest rallies.
"There are secret plans . . . to stage an incident in which a number of policemen would be hurt, to put the blame on the opposition . . . then move to arrest protest leaders, ban the rallies and introduce a form of emergency situation," he said.
Top Greek Diplomat Welcomed in Turkey
DERINCE, Turkey-- Greek Foreign Minister George Papandreou visited a village of prefabricated homes donated by his country for Turkish earthquake victims, one of several symbols of improving ties between his country and longtime rival Turkey.
Papandreou is the first senior Greek official to visit Turkey since relations thawed after both nations experienced deadly quakes a few weeks apart this summer and rushed to each other's aid.
During a speech later in Istanbul, he said Greece expects Turkey to take steps to build confidence between the two countries, specifically regarding the Mediterranean island of Cyprus. Cyprus has been divided into Turkish and Greek sectors since a 1974 Turkish invasion that followed a short-lived coup by supporters of union with Greece. Turkey maintains about 35,000 troops there.
Japan to Give $100 Million for E. Timor
TOKYO-- Japan said today it would provide $100 million to support the multinational peacekeeping force in East Timor.
Foreign Minister Masahiko Komura said the funds were aimed at allowing developing nations to participate in the multinational force. Komura also said Japan will continue to see what it can do to provide humanitarian aid as well as help rebuild East Timor.
A multinational force, led by Australia and endorsed by the United Nations and expected to total 8,500 soldiers, is taking control of East Timor, which was engulfed in violence after residents voted overwhelmingly for independence from Indonesia five weeks ago. Rough U.N. estimates showed that $220 million is needed to fund the force, Komura said.
Under its laws, Japan is unable to send troops to participate in peacekeeping operations in areas where there is no cease-fire in effect.
Burma Closes Border With Thailand
BANGKOK--Burma closed its border with Thailand yesterday and reinforced its forces in the area after five Burmese gunmen who had held diplomats and others hostage at the Burmese Embassy in Bangkok were released along the frontier, newspapers said.
The hostage situation ended Saturday, when the gunmen released their 38 hostages, were picked up by helicopters and set free along the Thai-Burmese border. They were believed to have sought sanctuary with the Karen National Union, a border-based rebel group in Burma.
Calling themselves the Vigorous Burmese Student Warriors, the hostage-takers had demanded the release of all political prisoners in Burma, a meaningful dialogue between democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi and the military government, and the convening of an elected parliament.
Rebel Leader Returns to Sierra Leone
FREETOWN, Sierra Leone--Sierra Leone's rebel leader returned to his home country almost three months after signing a peace accord that formally ended the West African nation's eight-year civil war.
Dressed in a flowing white robe and bright white cap, Foday Sankoh stepped out of a Nigerian government jet and spread his arms wide. Supporters and officials of his Revolutionary United Front, who had gathered at Lungi airport, cheered.
Later, he and former junta leader Johnny Paul Koroma, who returned to Sierra Leone with him, met with President Ahmed Tejan Kabbah at the presidential lodge in the hills high above Freetown.
Anti-Rape Ad Triggers Male Backlash
JOHANNESBURG--South African social activists sharply criticized a regulatory decision to ban an anti-rape television ad that some men thought was anti-male. The country has one of the world's highest rape rates.
The Advertising Standards Authority of South Africa quashed the ad after about 30 men complained that it implied all South African men are rapists, Sunday newspapers reported.
"Basically, this ad was saying that half of South Africa's men are rapists and the other half condone rape," Peter Vundla, the committee chairman, was quoted as saying in the Sunday Times. "That is not supported by evidence and is discriminatory, even sexist."
Pan-American Highway Spans Washed Out
TEGUCIGALPA, Honduras--Floods spawned by torrential rain knocked down two bridges along the Pan-American Highway, blocking overland traffic throughout Central America, authorities in Honduras and Nicaragua said.
More than two dozen people were reported drowned over the past three weeks, and tens of thousands had to evacuate their flooded homes since the unusually heavy rains began in the early days of September.
Katia Pastor, Honduras's director of highways, A metal bridge spanning the Rio Grande near the southern town of Choluteca collapsed Saturday, blocking traffic to Guatemala, Costa Rica, Nicaragua and Panama.
Mexicans Vote in Restive Coastal State
ACAPULCO, Mexico--Mexicans in the strife-torn southern state of Guerrero went to the polls to elect local officials, including a mayor of the Pacific coast resort of Acapulco.
The Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI), which has held the Mexican presidency since 1929, was facing off against a coalition of opposition parties in the state, where leftist guerrilla groups roam the rugged mountains and political violence is rife.
The PRI held onto the governorship of Guerrero in elections in February, but the voting was marred by allegations of vote-buying and intimidation. Opposition parties, such as the leftist Revolutionary Democratic Party and the conservative National Action Party, have contested the result.
QUOTE OF THE DAY
"Like every nation, we have to face our history, good and bad."
-- Irenej Kratochvil, director of the Czech Office for the Investigation and Documentation of the Crimes of Communism, Page A1