World digest 10/15

Monday, October 15, 2001

Colombia captures suspects in 24 deaths

BOGOTA, Colombia -- Soldiers on Sunday captured eight paramilitary fighters suspected of killing at least 24 peasants in a village in southwestern Colombia, the army said.

The suspected members of the outlaw militia, known as the United Self-Defense Forces of Colombia, or AUC, were caught in a raid in the province of Valle del Cauca, near where the Oct. 10 massacre of the peasants took place.

The villagers were removed from buses and homes and then shot in the head in the village of Buga. The right-wing AUC regularly kills peasants it suspects of aiding leftist guerrillas.

More than 50 trapped in collapsed mine

CALCUTTA, India -- Hopes for the survival of 50 workers trapped since last week in an illegal mine in eastern India were fading Sunday.

The mine caved in Wednesday near Lalbandh, 150 miles north of Calcutta in eastern Bengal state.

Some of the trapped workers could be heard shouting for help, but rescue officials said Sunday that they feared any attempt to drill holes to drop food may cause further damage.

The rescue teams were exploring the possibility of digging a tunnel from a safe portion of the adjoining land as an exit route for the trapped workers.

Chile may lift longtime ban against divorce

SANTIAGO, Chile -- As he wrapped up his performance at a Chilean campaign rally, the comedian had just one request for senatorial hopeful Enrique Krauss: "Please, sir, work for a divorce law so I can get married."

The comedian, known as El Indio, is separated from his first wife, but can't remarry because Chile is one of the few countries in the world that still bans divorce.

However, the issue may finally come up for a Senate vote.

After 12 failed attempts, the lower house of Congress passed the bill in 1997, but it languished there for four years -- until last week, when a Senate committee took it up. The government, which supports the bill, had recently proposed several changes in an attempt to make it more acceptable to the senators. The committee must file a report to the full Senate within 30 days.

Filters pulled after 23 dialysis patients die

ZAGREB, Croatia -- The government ordered hospitals to stop using dialysis filters made by a U.S. company after 23 patients undergoing treatment with the devices died over six days, the prime minister said Sunday.

All the patients who died had received treatment from dialyzers made by the Deerfield-Ill.-based Baxter International Inc., Prime Minister Ivica Racan said.

The state prosecutor and Interior Ministry were investigating Sunday.

Death toll mounts as hospital strike drags on

BLANTYRE, Malawi -- Scores of critically ill patients lay unattended on their beds in the tuberculosis ward at Malawi's largest hospital Sunday, waiting to die.

It's been 10 days since staff at Blantyre's Queen Elizabeth Central hospital went on strike, demanding promised wage increases be paid out. Patients have been sent home or left to fend for themselves without medication.

"No nurses are available to remove the dead," tuberculosis sufferer Marita Chibisa said, tears rolling down her cheeks.

Soldiers restore calm in tense Nigeria

KANO, Nigeria -- Fires smoldered in burned cars and ruined buildings in the northern city of Kano on Sunday, a day after Muslim-Christian clashes left at least 13 people dead and religious tensions high.

The fighting Saturday was apparently ignited by clashes between police and an armed mob Friday following a protest by Muslims against the U.S.-led airstrikes on Afghanistan.

Hundreds of soldiers patrolled Kano, located 500 miles north of the commercial capital Lagos, restoring an uneasy calm Sunday.

-- From wire reports

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