Turks to offer amnesty law to Kurdish rebels

Saturday, June 28, 2003

ISTANBUL, Turkey -- Turkey's interior minister said Friday the government will introduce a new amnesty law to encourage Kurdish rebels to lay down their arms and reintegrate into Turkish society.

Abdulkadir Aksu said top Kurdish rebel leaders would be excluded from the proposed amnesty. Rebels who surrendered and who were not involved in any armed attacks would not be punished under the proposal, he said.

Those involved in armed attacks would receive reduced prison terms, but would first have to provide authorities with information about the rebels, Aksu added.

Mandela condemns U.S. on Iraq, praises France

JOHANNESBURG, South Africa -- Former President Nelson Mandela on Friday criticized President Bush for the U.S.-led war in Iraq and praised French President Jacques Chirac for refusing to participate.

"For anybody, especially the leader of a super state, to act outside the United Nations is something that must be condemned by everybody," he said.

White House spokesman Sean McCormack said the Bush administration had no comment on Mandela's remarks, made after a meeting with French Foreign Minister Dominique de Villepin.

"I am very happy about the attitude taken by President Jacques Chirac because he made it clear that France was in favor of peace," Mandela said.

The 84-year-old statesman reiterated his previous criticism of the U.S. president, who is scheduled to visit South Africa in July.

Netherlands opens first 'deportation center'

AMSTERDAM, Netherlands -- The Netherlands on Friday opened the first of two "deportation centers," where hundreds of illegal immigrants and rejected asylum seekers -- including women and children -- will be detained pending expulsion.

The deportation centers are contested by human rights groups and refugee organizations who say they will be little different from prisons.

A first site for nearly 200 internees was opened at Rotterdam Airport and a second, with a capacity of 100, will be opened at Amsterdam's Schiphol Airport later this year, according to a statement from the Immigration Service.

The two facilities -- which will be expanded to hold up to 600 detainees and cost a projected $43 million per year -- are part of a plan called "The Way to a Safer Society," created under Prime Minister Jan Peter Balkenende.

Chechen rebels ambush, kill five Russian troops

VLADIKAVKAZ, Russia -- Chechen rebels ambushed and killed five Russian troops and pro-Moscow policemen responding to an emergency call about the shooting of a village elder, officials said Friday.

In a separate incident, two Russian servicemen were killed and two others wounded by a land mine in the Chechen capital, Grozny.

Russian planes also bombarded suspected rebel positions in the Nozhai-Yurt district, and artillery was used in several other districts.

The ambushed troops and policemen were responding to an emergency call in Vashindaroi, where about 20 unidentified, camouflaged men dragged the chairman of the council of elders, Alavdi Alsabayev, from his house and killed him, said an official in the Moscow-backed administration.

The ambush victims included Said-Ibragim Shamayev, son of Chechnya's chief mufti, or Muslim spiritual leader, the official said on condition of anonymity.

-- From wire reports

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