Floods swamp new area in Bangladesh; 7 drown

Sunday, August 18, 2002

PATNA, India -- Seven people drowned when a boat capsized in swirling floodwaters in eastern India, officials said Saturday, and a swollen river burst its banks and swamped dozens of villages in Bangladesh.

Forecasters warned of more rain to come in a monsoon season that has caused 911 deaths in Nepal, India and Bangladesh while displacing or isolating 25 million people since June.

Floods have killed 330 people in India, the latest when a boat sank Friday in a rising river in Bihar state. The accident happened in Khagariya district, 90 miles northwest of Patna, the state capital, said Relief and Rehabilitation Minister Ram Vichar Rai.

The state's water department said that intermittent rains Friday and Saturday had kept most rivers dangerously high and that more rains were expected.

Chechen fighting kills nine Russian servicemen

VLADIKAVKAZ, Russia -- Russia troops on Saturday battled with Chechen rebels who attacked a number of villages in southern Chechnya in fighting that has left nine soldiers and five civilians dead.

Fighting in the Urus-Martan district broke out when fighters entered Shalazhi on Thursday night, officials said. The rebels ambushed Russian checkpoints, attacked the local police and military commandant's headquarters and raided private houses of local pro-Moscow officials.

During the clashes, five civilians were killed by Russian artillery fire in the nearby village of Gekhi-Chu, an official in the Moscow-backed Chechen administration said Saturday on condition of anonymity. Russian media reported that a 5-year-old girl was among the civilians killed in the village.

Israel denies influencing America to strike Iraq

JERUSALEM -- Israeli Foreign Minister Shimon Peres says Israel is not trying to pressure the Bush administration to speed up a military strike against Iraq's Saddam Hussein and the timing of such an assault is solely a U.S. decision.

A Foreign Ministry statement was published Saturday, a day after other Israeli officials said that delaying action would only allow Saddam to expand his arsenal. The new statement quoted Peres as describing Israel as "a soldier in the camp of nations fighting terror, at the head of which stands the President of the United States."

"As such," Peres added, "Israel is not making proposals or pushing the United States."

Israeli intelligence officials have gathered evidence that Iraq is speeding up efforts to produce biological and chemical weapons, an aide to Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, said Friday.

--From wire reports

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