World briefs 3/23/04

Tuesday, March 23, 2004

Nigeria grants toppled Haitian leader asylum

ABUJA, Nigeria -- Nigeria has agreed to a request by Caribbean leaders to grant former Haitian President Jean-Bertrand Aristide temporary asylum, the nation's presidency said Monday. The request came from the 15-nation Caribbean Community, known as Caricom, Nigerian presidential spokeswoman Remi Oyo said in a statement late Monday. Aristide fled Haiti on Feb. 29 as rebels were closing in on the Haitian capital, Port-au-Prince. He arrived in Central African Republic on March 1 and stayed there with his wife and two bodyguards until March 15, when he flew to Jamaica to be with his two daughters.

Spanish judge charges four more with terrorism

MADRID, Spain -- A Spanish judge charged four more suspects early today with terrorism and mass killings for alleged roles in a string of railway blasts that killed 202 people. The charges against the three Moroccans and one Spaniard brought to nine the number of people charged in the March 11 terror attack. Judge Juan del Olmo charged Spaniard Jose Emilio Suarez, accused of providing explosives for the attacks, with 190 counts of murder, 1,430 counts of attempted murder, robbery and collaborating or belonging to a terrorist organization. Moroccan Abderrahim Zbakh was charged with all those same offenses except robbery. Mohamed El Hadi Chedadi and Abdelouahid Berrak, also Moroccans, were charged with collaborating with or belonging to a terrorist organization.

Afghan army deploys to calm factional fighting

KABUL, Afghanistan -- President Hamid Karzai launched one of the largest mobilizations of Afghanistan's new U.S.-trained army Monday, sending hundreds of soldiers to the western city of Herat after gun and tank battles between rival warlords killed about 100 people. Herat's powerful governor Ismail Khan appeared to have defeated local army commander Zaher Naib Zada in the factional fighting, some of the deadliest since the fall of the Taliban in late 2001. Khan's son, Aviation Minister Mirwais Sadiq, was among those killed in the street battles, sparked by a gunfight at a book-reading attended by the warlord and his son, Western diplomats and Afghan generals said. Sadiq was the third top member of Karzai's interim administration to die violently.

Two Finnish businessmen killed in Baghdad Monday

BAGHDAD, Iraq -- Gunmen killed two Finnish businessmen as they drove in Baghdad on Monday, the latest foreign civilians to die in Iraq since the U.S.-led invasion a year ago. The two Finns, part of a nine-person technological delegation visiting the Iraqi capital, were killed near a highway underpass in west Baghdad, according to Iraqi witnesses. The victims' Iraqi driver was unhurt. In the southern city of Basra, 14 British troops were wounded in two explosions during a demonstration. British soldiers fired tear gas at about 500 unemployed Iraqi civilians protesting a failure to get jobs with the local customs police, the chief of Basra customs Col. Zafer Abdel-Nabi said.

Polish police detain four men on terror suspicion

WARSAW, Poland-- Polish authorities questioned three Pakistanis and a Ukrainian Monday about possible terrorist links after finding maps in one of the men's apartments with large circles around the capital's only synagogue and an area housing many embassies. The men were taken into custody amid heightened security after the bombings in Madrid, and police were investigating whether they were involved in terrorism or other criminal activity, said police spokeswoman Grazyna Puchalska. Polish authorities contacted police in several countries and the European police agency Europol and were checking all items found on the men to determine "who they are and what they are doing in Poland," said Pawel Chojecki, another police spokesman.

-- From wire reports

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