Sudan Disputes U.N.

On Deaths in Camps

KHARTOUM, Sudan -- Sudan disputed a U.N. report that said 70,000 people have died since March in refugee camps in western Darfur province, with a government minister insisting Saturday that the number could not be more than 7,000.

On Friday, the World Health Organization estimated that at least 70,000 people had died in the camps, most because of poor conditions. The number does not include those killed in fighting, including militia and government attacks on villages or on fleeing refugees.

"This report is totally wrong and not correct at all," said Mohammed Yusuf Ibrahim, state minister at the ministry of humanitarian affairs .


* TOKYO -- An American working for the U.S. military was handed to Japanese prosecutors for questioning following his arrest on suspicion of raping a woman on the island of Okinawa, a police spokesman said.

The move coincided with a visit by Foreign Minister Nobutaka Machimura to Okinawa, home to the largest U.S. military presence in Japan.

The 34-year-old civilian was arrested on Friday on suspicion of breaking into the home of a Japanese woman in her twenties and raping her in central Okinawa last August. A police spokesman said the suspect denied the allegations.

* RANGOON, Burma -- Burma's Supreme Court has dismissed lawsuits filed by the opposition National League for Democracy challenging the detention of its leader, Aung San Suu Kyi, and the closure of its offices, the group said.

The lawsuits were filed on Oct. 14, and the court threw them out the same day, saying they were irrelevant under Burma's criminal code, the group said in a statement.

"The denial of legal remedies for the grievances of a person or an organization is the ugly face of a civilized society," the statement said.

The Americas

* SAN JOSE, Costa Rica -- A Costa Rican judge put the former head of the Organization of American States under house arrest for six months while he is investigated on bribery allegations, judicial officials said.

Miguel Angel Rodriguez, who quit the OAS post this month after only two weeks, spent several hours in a clinic in the capital suffering from high blood pressure before being taken in a police car to an apartment building to begin his house arrest.

Rodriguez resigned from the OAS on Oct. 8 after being accused of taking a $550,000 bribe in a 2001 telecommunications contract.


* BUJUMBURA, Burundi -- Burundi's first democratic elections in more than a decade, originally set for Oct. 31, have been delayed until early 2005 under a timetable endorsed by a summit of regional African leaders.

Summit delegates agreed it was impossible to hold elections before Nov. 1, when the mandate of an interim government expires, and said the administration should be extended until the vote is held.

President Domitien Ndayizeye, who took part in the summit in Nairobi on Friday, said Burundi's independent electoral commission presented the proposed election schedule at the meeting.

The Middle East

* TEHRAN -- Iran said it would reject any proposal to stop uranium enrichment for nuclear fuel, the central part of a package that European allies of the United States are proposing to avoid a showdown over Iran's nuclear program.

The European countries notified Washington on Friday that they intended to offer Iran a package of economic incentives next week in hopes of persuading the country to permanently give up uranium enrichment, a technology that can be used to make nuclear weapons.

"Iran will not accept any proposal which deprives it of the legitimate right to the cycle of [nuclear] fuel," Hossein Mousavian, a top Iranian nuclear official, was quoted by state-run television as saying.

* JABALYA REFUGEE CAMP, Gaza Strip -- Israel's military said its 17-day incursion into the northern Gaza Strip struck a heavy blow against Palestinian militants routinely firing makeshift rockets into the country's southern region.

Palestinian residents, however, accused the army of wanton destruction, saying the broad military offensive targeted densely populated areas never used to launch rockets. More than 100 Palestinians -- including dozens of civilians -- were killed, making this the bloodiest military offensive in northern Gaza in four years of fighting.

Early Sunday, the Israeli army moved elsewhere in the volatile territory, as 10 tanks and three bulldozers entered the Rafah refugee camp, near the Egyptian border. The army said the incursion was aimed at rooting out weapons-smuggling tunnels in the area. No casualties were reported.

-- From News Services

A Palestinian woman sits on the rubble of her house, which was demolished by Israeli bulldozers after the army withdrew from the Jabalya refugee camp in the northern Gaza Strip.