Algerian Pardons Islamic Army Members
ALGIERS--President Abdelaziz Bouteflika gave a blanket pardon yesterday to members of the Islamic Salvation Army, two days before the deadline for all Islamic militants to lay down arms.
The president's office also said in a statement that the insurgency movement had decided to "definitively dissolve itself." More than 100,000 people have died since the army canceled 1992 legislative elections that the Islamic Salvation Front was poised to win. The Islamic Salvation Army is the front's armed wing.
The decree exonerates the militants, opening the way for a "complete and total reintegration into Algerian society," the statement said. The militant group, whose size is unknown, had no immediate comment.
The amnesty appears to provide an opportunity for Islamic Salvation Army members to cooperate with security forces in tracking down Islamic extremists who refuse to give up their battle for an Islamic state. Bouteflika's actions came a week after the militant group froze its deal with Algerian authorities under which some members would turn in weapons and get full amnesty and others would reportedly help security forces.
Congo Accused of Cease-Fire Violation
KIGALI, Rwanda--Congolese rebels and government forces loyal to President Laurent Kabila fought on swampy islands on the Congo River, despite efforts to secure a truce in the 16-month war.
Jean-Pierre Bemba, leader of the Ugandan-backed rebel Congolese Liberation Movement, accused government troops of violating a five-month-old cease-fire by overrunning the small fishing village of Kwalungu.
State-run radio in Kinshasa, the Congolese capital, confirmed the seizure of Kwalungu but made no mention of reported losses or the fighting. Kabila dismissed the rebels' claims of cease-fire violations, saying that Congo doesn't pay credence to claims from "traitors of the nation."
China Warns India Over Lama's Departure
BEIJING--China told India to tread carefully over the issue of a high-ranking Tibetan lama who trekked to India last week and may seek asylum there.
Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhu Bangzao also repeated China's official explanation that the 14-year-old Karmapa Lama left Tibet to collect ritual implements, leaving the door open for his return.
But China showed no sign of softening its policy toward the Dalai Lama, Tibet's exiled Buddhist leader, and state media quoted Prime Minister Zhu Rongji and another top official as calling for stricter implementation of religious policies.
Eight Bodies Found in E. Timor Graves
LABUKOE, East Timor--U.N. investigators exhumed two mass graves in East Timor and found the bodies of eight people who likely were killed months before the province voted in August to break away from Indonesia. Work was suspended because of rain and is expected to resume today.
Witnesses said they saw at least another 10 bodies in the graves in Lauboke village, 40 miles west of Dili, the capital. Locals said they buried the bodies after they were dumped by village militias.
S. Korean Wants Complete U.S. Inquiry
SEOUL--Already close ties between the United States and South Korea could improve if Washington conducts a thorough inquiry into an alleged mass killing of civilians by American soldiers during the Korean War, President Kim Dae Jung said yesterday.
After meeting Kim, Army Secretary Louis Caldera said that the two countries agreed that the review of events at No Gun Ri "should be completed as expeditiously as possible without sacrificing thoroughness and accuracy."
Britain, Iran Sign Declaration
LONDON--Couching differences over human rights in diplomatic niceties, Britain and Iran signed a joint declaration to fight terrorism and drug trafficking, promote trade and strengthen ties.
The declaration came at the end of a visit by Iranian Foreign Minister Kamal Kharrazi that represented a giant leap in relations between two countries that exchanged ambassadors in May after a 20-year break.
Bosnian Serbs Plead Not Guilty
THE HAGUE--Two Bosnian Serbs who allegedly led an onslaught that killed hundreds of Muslims and Croats and sent tens of thousands fleeing for their lives pleaded not guilty to 12 counts of genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity.
The case of Gen. Momir Talic and Radoslav Brdjanin comes as the Yugoslav war crimes tribunal reaps a harvest of senior Serbian military commanders detained for trial. Prosecutors are aiming high for the first genocide conviction in the seven years since the international court was established.
THE MIDDLE EAST
U.S. Bombs Iraqi Missile Defenses
ANKARA, Turkey--U.S. warplanes bombed an Iraqi air defense system, responding to Iraqi artillery fire during patrols of the "no-fly" zone over northern Iraq, the U.S. military said.
The planes attacked an Iraqi integrated air defense system after Iraqi forces opened fire with artillery from sites near Mosul and Bashiqah, about 250 miles north of Baghdad, the German-based U.S. European Command said in a statement.
Fujimori's Ex-Wife to Run for Congress
LIMA, Peru--President Alberto Fujimori's former wife has announced that she will run for Congress, ending supporters' hopes that she would challenge Fujimori for the presidency.
Susana Higuchi said her party, the Independent Moralizing Front, decided against selecting a presidential candidate as an act of protest against Fujimori's decision to seek a third consecutive term. Higuchi, whose divorce from Fujimori was bitter and highly publicized, had been touted in recent weeks as a possible presidential or vice presidential candidate.
QUOTE OF THE DAY
"I think it is beyond irony that a murderer such as Pinochet may be released for humanitarian reasons."
-- Congressman Juan Pablo Letelier, son of the Chilean ambassador assassinated in Washington by Pinochet's secret police in 1976 --Page A15