World briefs 4/1/05

Friday, April 1, 2005

Nine killed in U.S. military plane crash in Albania

TIRANA, Albania -- A U.S. military airplane crashed in central Albania while on a training mission Thursday, and nine American personnel aboard were believed to have been killed, the Defense Ministry said. The plane had taken off from Tirana's Mother Teresa Airport and crashed on Driza Mountain in the district of Gramsh, 50 miles southeast of capital, Tirana, officials said. They believe that the nine people aboard, all Americans, were killed.

Ethiopia orders expulsion of U.S. election workers

ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia -- Ethiopia ordered the expulsion of three Americans who were helping prepare the Horn of Africa country for elections in May, alleging Thursday that they entered the country illegally. But the expulsions ordered Wednesday -- the Americans are still in Ethiopia and have until today to leave -- followed a critical U.S. report about human rights in the country. The May 15 elections in this country of 25.6 million would be only the third democratic ballot in its history. All the elections have been won by the Ethiopian People's Revolutionary Democratic Front. As a rebel movement, the now ruling party ousted dictator Mengistu Haile Mariam in 1991. The opposition said it fears the vote won't be free and fair and has accused the party of using supporters to intimidate and attack opposition backers.

Prince Albert takes over as ruler of Monaco

MONACO -- Groomed from birth to rule, Prince Albert took over Monaco's royal powers on Thursday, assuming all but the throne in the tiny principality after a royal commission decided his critically ill father is too sick to perform his duties. The announcement by the royal palace marked the first time since 1949 that Prince Rainier III -- Europe's longest-serving ruler -- has not been in control of the Mediterranean realm smaller than New York's Central Park and famed as a playground for the rich and famous. Albert, 47, is the only son of Rainier and his late wife, Grace Kelly, the American beauty who exchanged Hollywood stardom for the life of a princess.

Rwanda rebel group denounces 1994 genocide

ROME -- A Rwandan Hutu militia group on Thursday said it would stop fighting in the region and condemned the Hutu-led 1994 genocide in the central African country. The announcement by the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda, the main Hutu militia group, came at the end of four days of talks in Rome with the Sant'Egidio Community, a Catholic group that mediates world conflicts. "The DFLR commits to ending armed struggle," the group said in a statement. "The DFLR decides to turn their fighting into political struggle." The group also said it was willing to disarm, provided that its safety was guaranteed.

U.S. soldiers accused of smuggling cocaine

BOGOTA, Colombia -- Five U.S Army soldiers are under investigation for allegedly trying to smuggle 32 pounds of cocaine out of Colombia aboard a U.S. military aircraft, American officials said Thursday. The soldiers were detained Tuesday as a result of the investigation, said Lt. Col. Eduardo Villavicencio, a spokesman for the U.S. military's Southern Command in Florida. He would not disclose where the five are being held, other than "in the United States." The United States has provided more than $3 billion in aid over the past four years to help Colombia battle Marxist rebels and drug trafficking that fuels the 40-year-old insurgency.

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