Briefs 10A

Sunday, June 2, 2002

China mine accidents leave 29 miners dead

BEIJING -- An explosion rocked one coal mine in China and poison gas filled a second in separate incidents on the same day, killing as many as 29 miners, the official Xinhua News Agency said Saturday.

Accidents at China's notoriously unsafe and poorly regulated mines killed more than 5,000 workers last year. In the last month alone, 329 miners died.

Fifteen miners died Thursday near Badong, a town in the central province of Hubei, after poison gas suddenly rushed into their mine, Xinhua said.

The news agency quoted officials as saying the miners appeared to have broken through a wall into an adjacent defunct coal mine that had filled with deadly gases after years of disuse.

In the other accident, 14 miners were believed dead when a gas explosion ripped through a coal mine near Chaoyang, 220 miles northeast of Beijing, Xinhua said.

Chechen rebels ask Colin Powell to intervene

VLADIKAVKAZ, Russia -- Rebel leaders in breakaway Chechnya on Saturday asked Secretary of State Colin Powell to try to get Russia to end military operations in the village of Mesker-Yurt.

The rebels' foreign ministry said in a statement that Russian forces had sealed off Mesker-Yurt for several days to look for rebels and their sympathizers, detaining hundreds of residents.

Human rights groups say the security operations often result in torture, beatings and killings. The foreign ministry said 21 people had been shot dead by Russian forces in the Mesker-Yurt operation, but there was no independent confirmation of the claim.

The rebels' statement urged Powell to contact Russian President Vladimir Putin and Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov demand they halt actions in Mesker-Yurt.

Ukrainian TV executive's suicide investigated

KIEV, Ukraine -- Prosecutors opened a criminal investigation into the death of a top TV executive on suspicion he was forced to take his own life, according to a Saturday news report.

Andriy Feshchenko, deputy president of Ukraine's National Television Company, was found dead Friday inside his vehicle on a Kiev street.

Police found a hunting rifle and a note from Feshchenko in the car, but the contents of the note -- which were not released -- prompted prosecutors to open their search for suspects, Interfax news agency said.

The Interior Ministry declined to give further details.

Before taking his position at the state TV company two months ago, Feshchenko worked for the private STB TV channel.

Southeast Asia discusses anti-terrorism efforts

SINGAPORE -- Poverty and poor communication between governments are the main obstacles hampering Southeast Asia's fight against terrorism, the region's defense ministers said Saturday.

At the two-day meeting in Singapore the ministers discussed how to coordinate efforts to crush an al-Qaida linked terrorist network discovered operating in the region and to determine what they need in the fight against terrorists.

Their requests included financial aid from the West, a shared intelligence database between neighboring nations, joint war-games, and a fund to help nations recover from possible future terrorist acts.

U.S. troops kill three allied Afghanis in raid

BAGRAM, Afghanistan -- A raid on a compound mistakenly identified as an al-Qaida and Taliban hide-out went awry when U.S. troops killed three of their Afghan allies who had occupied the area before the Americans moved in, an army spokesman said.

Two Afghan fighters loyal to the government of interim premier Hamid Karzai were also wounded in the exchange at the walled compound outside the eastern city of Gardez before on Friday, Col. Roger King said. No Americans were injured.

Later in the day in southern Afghanistan, a bomb packed with steel bolts exploded outside the palace of Kandahar's provincial governor, Gul Agha, injuring one man and causing light damage, officials said.-- From wire reports

EU signs global warming treaty; U.S. opposed

UNITED NATIONS -- European Union countries have formally signed on to the Kyoto Protocol, a pact aimed at stemming pollution and global warming that has been opposed by the United States.

The ratification by the 15 EU countries on Friday is a major step toward putting the 1997 treaty into force.

The ceremony at the United Nations headquarters in New York also highlighted the Bush administration's isolation as the only announced opponent of the accord.

The Kyoto Protocol was signed by the Clinton administration, but never ratified by the U.S. Senate. President Bush backed out of it last year, saying it would have cost the U.S. economy $400 billion and 4.9 million jobs.

"The European Union urges the United States to reconsider its position and to return to and participate in the global framework for addressing climate change that this protocol provides," Wallstrom said.

U.N. orders workers' families out of Pakistan

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan -- Several hundred foreigners working for the United Nations in Pakistan have been ordered to send their families home because of fears of a war between India and Pakistan, a diplomatic source said Saturday.

An anonymous official said the mandatory order would affect "several hundred."

India and Pakistan, which both have nuclear weapons, have 1 million soldiers facing off along their tense border.

On Friday, the United States announced a voluntary evacuation of its nonessential staff from India. Britain, Australia, New Zealand and Canada have issued similar warnings.

In Pakistan, most embassies had already issued evacuation orders.

Immigration to Denmark tightened by new laws

COPENHAGEN, Denmark -- Denmark's image as a free-minded country that takes pride in its humanitarian values has been dented by new rules tightening its already strict immigration laws.

The legislation, which was approved by parliament on Friday and takes effect July 1, states that refugees will need seven years of residence instead of three to be granted citizenship -- and cannot tap into Denmark's generous social benefits while they're waiting.

The party's success was part of a trend sweeping much of Europe, where right-wing parties have surged in France and the Netherlands this year by exploiting fears of a rising tide of immigrants and refugees.

Under Denmark's new rules, fewer refugees will get political asylum and it will be harder for immigrants in the Scandinavian nation of 5.3 million people to bring in relatives. Refugees also would be repatriated when their homelands were deemed safe and face case reviews if they leave Denmark.

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