Israeli Court Bans Use

Of 'Human Shields'

JERUSALEM -- Israel's army must stop using Palestinian civilians as "human shields" in operations against suspected Palestinian militants, the Israeli Supreme Court ruled Thursday.

Palestinian and Israeli human rights groups had sought the ruling. The court's decision that the practice is illegal under international law hardened a temporary injunction issued in 2002.

"The army has no right to use civilians as human shields. . . . It is cruel and barbaric," Justice Aharon Barak wrote in a 20-page decision.

Israeli troops conducting raids have used Palestinian noncombatants to knock on doors or enter the homes of suspects. In several cases, the practice resulted in their injury or death.

Israel's army chief ordered the ruling implemented immediately.

Rights groups said the army had repeatedly violated the earlier injunction because it left leeway for field commanders to press Palestinian civilians into service with their consent by persuading them their lives would not be endangered.

ASIA

* TOKYO -- Peru's former president, Alberto Fujimori, said he intends to run in the country's presidential election next April. Fujimori announced his decision at a news conference in Tokyo, where he has been in self-imposed exile for the past five years.

Following up on his pledge could place him at personal risk. He has been indicted in Peru on more than 20 counts, including a massacre of civilians by the military during his presidency, and could face immediate arrest if he returns. Fujimori has denied all allegations against him and has asked Peruvian authorities to repeal orders for his arrest.

Fujimori was Peru's president from 1990 to 2000, successfully fighting two communist guerrilla movements. The son of Japanese immigrants, he was granted Japanese citizenship because of that heritage. Japan has so far refused Peru's requests to extradite him.

-- Anthony Faiola

* KABUL, Afghanistan -- A 27-year-old woman who is a defiant critic of Afghanistan's powerful militia leaders won one of the first seats declared in provisional results from parliamentary elections, a key step on the nation's path to democracy. Malalai Joya, a women's rights worker who won in Farah province, said her priorities would be "peace, security and stability, and to collect all the guns from warlords."

The U.N.-Afghan election body reported "serious" cases of fraud, including ballot-box stuffing after election day. It excluded 299 polling stations from the vote count, but said the Sept. 18 election was still credible. Certified election results are expected by late October.

President Hamid Karzai and NATO's chief diplomat, meanwhile, expressed confidence that a planned deployment of 6,000 NATO troops into volatile southern provinces would occur next year -- a move that could eventually free up thousands of U.S. forces.

AFRICA

* UNITED NATIONS -- The new International Criminal Court has issued arrest warrants for five leaders of a Ugandan cult notorious for raping, maiming and killing children, a U.N. official said. The warrants against members of the Lord's Resistance Army are the first issued by the court, based in The Hague.

* ABUJA, Nigeria -- A Nigerian militant leader was charged with plotting to overthrow the government after he called for the independence of the southern oil-rich delta region.

Mujahid Dokubo-Asari, who threatened to blow up oil platforms in a conflict with government troops last year, appeared under heavy security at an Abuja court, shouting: "Nigeria is a nullity. Obasanjo is a dictator." President Olusegun Obasanjo had ordered his arrest.

* KINSHASA, Congo -- Twelve Congolese soldiers have gone on trial charged with raping more than 100 women in 2003 in a case that authorities hope will signal the return of military justice after years of war.

THE AMERICAS

* GUATEMALA CITY -- Rescue workers in Guatemala pulled dozens of bodies from a massive mudslide and a swollen river, raising to 246 the number of people killed from five days of pounding rains in Central America and Mexico.

* BOGOTA, Colombia -- Right-wing paramilitary groups suspended their demobilization process to protest President Alvaro Uribe's decision to jail a paramilitary leader wanted in New York on drug charges.

* TORONTO -- Toronto health officials said Legionnaires' disease was probably the cause of 16 deaths at a nursing home and warned that more deaths were possible before the bacteria was fully contained.

-- From News Services