Spanish authorities say major attack stopped

Thursday, May 16, 2002

MADRID, Spain -- Spanish authorities seized an arsenal of weapons and explosives and thwarted a major terrorist attack the Basque separatist group ETA planned to launch against an upcoming summit of Latin American and European leaders, officials said Wednesday.

Two suspected ETA members arrested on Tuesday had stashed nearly 440 pounds of explosives, along with detonators, automatic weapons and false license plates at an apartment in the center of the capital, according to the Interior Ministry's top official for the Madrid region, Francisco Javier Ansuategui.

"It was a real arsenal," Ansuategui told a news conference with the heads of the National Police and Civil Guard.

"These two persons didn't want to scare," he said. "They wanted to kill and to kill with all its consequences."

Russian defense minister supports arms deal

MOSCOW -- Russian Defense Minister Sergei Ivanov dismissed accusations Wednesday that Russia had compromised its national interests in agreeing to an arms control pact with the United States that slashes arsenals by two-thirds.

The agreement, announced Monday after nearly six months of negotiations, is to be signed next week by President Bush and Russian President Vladimir Putin during a summit in Russia.

"Neither side, neither Russia nor the United States, surrendered any national interests while drafting this agreement," Ivanov said at a Moscow meeting of defense ministers from China and four ex-Soviet republics in Central Asia. "This agreement is the result of a compromise, like any other international agreement."

Germany's largest union brings strike to end

FRANKFURT, Germany -- Germany's biggest union reached a wage deal with employers Wednesday to end waves of one-day strikes in a key industrial region, a breakthrough likely to spare the country a drawn-out, damaging work stoppage.

The deal calls for a 4 percent increase for one year beginning June 1, then a 3.1 percent increase for the next six months, the union said. Workers also get a one-time payment of $110 in May.

The announcement followed daylong negotiations by union and employer officials in the southwest Baden-Wuerttemberg region on how to stop the union's first manufacturing strike in seven years.

The agreement, covering 800,000 factory workers, is expected to set the pattern nationwide. Both sides had resumed contract talks Wednesday nearly a month after negotiations collapsed.

At least 33 die in fights in northwest Colombia

BOGOTA, Colombia -- Rebels, right-wing paramilitary fighters and government troops clashed in northwest Colombia, killing at least 33, authorities said Wednesday.

The bloodier battles erupted Tuesday in a rural area near the town of Campamento, 185 miles northwest of Bogota. Rebels from the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia fought army troops and also battled the paramilitary group United Self-Defense Forces of Colombia, officials said.

Gen. Mario Montoya, commander of the army's fourth brigade, said his troops killed 12 rebels. Another 12 unidentified fighters were found dead. He didn't say if the unidentified fighters were members of the rebels or the paramilitaries.

Democracy activists get amnesty from S. Africa

CAPE TOWN, South Africa -- South Africa's president said Wednesday he had pardoned 33 people jailed for crimes ranging from robbery to murder, claiming they fought against apartheid rule.

The main opposition party, the Democratic Alliance, charged that the decision undermined the work of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, set up in 1994 to study politically motivated crimes committed under apartheid.

The commission, headed by Nobel laureate Archbishop Desmond Tutu, has the power to grant amnesty to perpetrators willing to tell the whole story behind their crimes

--From wire reports

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