Miss World organizers ask for stop to stoning

Friday, September 13, 2002

LAGOS, Nigeria -- Organizers of Miss World asked Nigeria's government Thursday for assurances a single mother's sentence of death by stoning for having sex outside of marriage will not be carried out.

The pageant is to be held Nov. 30 in Nigeria's capital Abuja, and organizers have come under fire from beauty queens, who are threatening to boycott to protest the stoning sentence, and from Nigeria's Muslims, who are opposed to an event they see as immoral.

Miss World president Julia Morley canceled an inspection tour of contestant visiting sites in eastern Nigeria to meet with government ministers about the case of single mother Amina Lawal, said Guy Murray-Bruce, owner of the pageant's Nigerian franchise rights.

Suspected rebels hijack school bus in Colombia

BOGOTA, Colombia -- Hooded gunmen hijacked a school bus with up to eight children aboard in eastern Colombia on Thursday, later freeing the driver and five students, authorities said.

The two kidnappers, believed to be leftist National Liberation Army rebels, boarded the bus and drove off with the children, aged 10 to 14, as they headed to school in the town of Ocana, 250 miles northeast of Bogota. Five children were later released and the bus was found abandoned.

Gen. Martin Orlando Carreno, an army commander in the region, said one boy, Kevin Rojas, remained in the hands of the kidnappers.

Russian military ready to launch Georgia attacks

MOSCOW -- Russia's military is ready to launch attacks in Georgia to flush out Chechen militants believed to be based in a remote, mountainous region, Defense Minister Sergei Ivanov warned Thursday.

Georgia has been under Russian pressure for months to take action against militants in the Pankisi Gorge, but its poorly equipped military, which has only about 17,000 men, has launched only one operation, which produced few results: the detention of 13 alleged criminals and one suspected Arab militant.

The pressure increased Thursday with the release of details of a letter President Vladimir Putin sent to world leaders outlining Russia's complaints about Georgia's inaction and asserting Russia's right to launch attacks in line with the United Nations charter enshrining countries' right to self-defense.

U.S. special ops forces ordered to shave beards

BAGRAM, Afghanistan -- Out came the razors and off went the beards this week for special operations troops at camps and safe houses throughout Afghanistan as soldiers complied with new orders requiring them to shed their local look in return for clean-cut military appearance.

The order came Sept. 6 and was supposed to go into effect by noon the next day, according to special operations soldiers operating in southeastern Afghanistan.

--From wire reports

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