World briefs 4/18/06

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Chad's president won't expel Darfur refugees

N'DJAMENA, Chad -- Chad's president has reversed earlier threats by officials to forcibly return Sudanese refugees to their country's volatile Darfur region after allegations that Chadian rebels have recruited fighters from the camps, the U.N. refugee chief said Monday. U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees Antonio Guterres urged the international community to make every effort to bring peace to Darfur, saying security there is essential for the stability of the entire region, including Chad.

Karzai calls for restraint by coalition troops

KABUL, Afghanistan -- Afghan President Hamid Karzai to U.S.-led coalition forces: Show restraint when attacking militants in residential areas. Karzai made the plea after more than a dozen civilians and police died in two possible "friendly fire" incidents. Karzai's government has previously complained about what he called heavy-handed tactics by U.S.-led troops. The coalition says militants often take cover among civilians during fighting.

Mexican bus plunges into ravine, killing 67

VERACRUZ, Mexico -- An overcrowded bus speeding home from a religious festival veered off a highway emergency ramp and crashed through a metal barrier Monday, plunging more than 650 feet into a ravine. At least 67 people were killed, including four children. Four people survived the plunge from the highway, considered one of the 15 most dangerous in Mexico. The bus had already traveled for more than 10 hours as it returned from an Easter gathering in the western city of Guadalajara to the passengers' home state of Tabasco, on the Gulf Coast.

Qatar pledges to give $50 million to Palestine

DOHA, Qatar -- The Palestinian government is going to receive some much needed aid. Qatar says it will give the Palestinians $50 million in aid to help make up for a shortfall after the United States and the European Union cut off funding. The official Qatar News Agency said the funds were offered to "bolster the budget of the Palestinian Authority based on the decision of the Arab summit held in Khartoum" in March. On Sunday, Iran said it was sending the same amount of money to the Palestinians to help fund the Hamas-led government.

Colombian leader attacks press over scandal

BOGOTA, Colombia -- It was a most unpresidential spectacle: President Alvaro Uribe upbraiding the editor of Colombia's top news magazine on morning talk radio for rekindling a corruption scandal just weeks before he stands for re-election. The magazine Semana had doggedly reported on allegations of fraud in Uribe's 2002 election victory, a conspiracy to assassinate leftist and union activists, and the leaking of sensitive information to drug traffickers and right-wing paramilitary groups. All this comes ahead of May 28 presidential elections in which Uribe, Washington's top ally in South America, enjoys a comfortable lead in opinion polls. Uribe's stern lecture to Semana's editor, Alejandro Santos, was considered by groups including Human Rights Watch to be a frightening attempt to muzzle the press in a country where journalism is already a very dangerous profession.

Saddam challenges writing experts' findings

BAGHDAD, Iraq -- Saddam Hussein's lawyer Monday challenged findings of handwriting experts verifying the former president's signature on documents linked to a crackdown on Shiites, and demanded a review by specialists from anywhere except Iran or Israel. The report from handwriting experts said a signature on a document approving rewards for intelligence agents involved in the crackdown in the 1980s was Saddam's, prosecutors said, reading from the report. Saddam's lawyer Khamis al-Obaidi disputed the experts' finding and insisted that the documents be analyzed by international experts except those from Iran because of "its obvious hostility against Arabs and Islam."

-- From wire reports

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