World briefs 12/13/05

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Colombian paramilitaries surrender weapons

OTU, Colombia -- About 2,000 right-wing paramilitary fighters, including a warlord considered a major drug trafficker by the United States, turned in weapons and helicopter gunships Monday in one of Colombia's largest disarmament ceremonies in years. In exchange for disbanding, the fighters from the outlawed United Self-Defense Forces of Colombia, or AUC, were granted amnesty and will begin receiving a monthly stipend of $180 from the government. The camouflage-clad fighters filed past an outdoor stage and handed over 1,254 rifles to government officials at a heavily guarded ranch in the northwest. They also surrendered 80 other guns, 526 grenades, 13 rockets and two helicopter gunships, which were parked behind the demobilizing fighters.

Violence breaks out for second night in Sydney

SYDNEY, Australia -- Violence spilled into a second night Monday as scores of youths drove through predominantly white suburbs of Sydney, smashing windows of cars, homes and stores and raising fears of spreading racial unrest. About 5,000 white men, many of them drunk, targeted people believed to be of Arab or Middle Eastern descent on Cronulla Beach on Sunday after rumors spread that Lebanese youths assaults two lifeguards earlier this month.

U.S. envoy: Bin Laden may no longer control al-Qaida

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan -- Osama bin Laden may no longer have operational control of his terrorist network, the U.S. ambassador to Pakistan said Monday. Ryan Crocker said bin Laden cannot communicate with his followers because he likely is hiding in a remote area, Pakistan's Geo Television and state-run PTV reported after the ambassador met with local journalists. U.S. Embassy spokesman Peter Kovach, who was at the gathering, confirmed the substance of the reports. Last week Saudi Arabia's ambassador to Washington, Prince Turki bin al-Faisal, said he believes bin Laden is alive but there is some question about whether he still leads al-Qaida.

-- From wire reports

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