World briefs 11/05/02

Tuesday, November 5, 2002

Three killed in shootout at Congo president's palace

KINSHASA, Congo -- A man in military uniform opened fire in the palace of President Joseph Kabila on Monday, and two presidential guards and the gunman were killed in the ensuing gunfight, Kabila's spokesman said.

Three other guards were injured. Kabila had just returned to the Congo capital when the shooting occurred and was not in the palace, authorities said.

The gunfight broke out in the same area of the marble presidential palace where Joseph Kabila's father, Laurent, was shot to death at his desk on Jan. 16, 2001.

Authorities did not call the latest shooting an assassination attempt.

Japanese activist reported missing in China

BEIJING -- A Japanese activist who helped establish an organization that assists North Korean refugees has been missing for five days in northeastern China, and the Chinese government said Monday it was looking for him.

But the organization, Life Funds for North Korean Refugees, suggested China was responsible for Hiroshi Kato's disappearance and urged the government to respect international rules on detained foreigners.

Kato, 57, dropped from sight Wednesday after leaving the Tianfu Hotel in the northeastern Chinese city of Dalia, the Japan-based group said. It said Kato had been telephoning at least three times daily.

"We have done our best to locate Mr. Kato, but we still cannot find him," said Kenkichi Nakadaira, a representative of Life Funds for North Korean Refugees. "This is a matter of grave concern."

If the Chinese government is involved, he said, "we strongly urge the Chinese authorities to immediately investigate this matter and locate Mr. Kato, and explain in detail why he has been detained."

Venezuela opposition defies threats by marching

CARACAS, Venezuela -- Gunfire erupted Monday as police clashed with rock-throwing government supporters trying to disrupt an opposition march, leaving at least 10 people were wounded, including two officers, officials said.

APTN cameraman Mauricio Munoz, 37, sustained a minor chest wound, said APTN's Fernando Jauregui. Jauregui said Munoz was wearing a flak vest.

The violence came as opponents of Venezuela President Hugo Chavez marched to deliver more than 2 million signatures demanding a vote on Chavez's presidency.

Venezuela's opposition, determined to oust Chavez for allegedly creating a totalitarian regime, has threatened to start an indefinite general strike that could affect oil processing.

Rebels refuse peace talks until demands discussed

LOME, Togo -- Peace talks aimed at ending Ivory Coast's six-week rebellion hit a roadblock Monday with rebel leaders refusing talks unless the government assures them all demands would be discussed.

The interruption comes as the two sides were preparing to enter the toughest phase of talks. The rebels want Ivory Coast President Laurent Gbagbo to step down and clear the way for new elections. He says they must disarm before any other step.

Rebels and government negotiators had been due to resume talks Monday in the Togolese capital, Lome. Rebel leaders instead stayed in their stronghold of Bouake in central Ivory Coast, telling reporters they would return only if the government agreed to discuss all their grievances.

Lonnie Donegan, British 'skiffle' musician, dies

LONDON -- Lonnie Donegan, a musician whose "skiffle" sound inspired John Lennon and Pete Townshend to learn to play guitar, has died, his publicist said Monday.

Donegan died Sunday in Peterborough, central England, while on a tour of Britain, publicist Judy Totton said. He was 71 and had suffered several heart attacks.

Donegan's hits included "Does Your Chewing Gum Lose Its Flavor (on the Bedpost Overnight)," "My Old Man's A Dustman," and "Rock Island Line," but he may have been more important to British music for inspiring young talents to imitate and then eclipse his success.

-- From wire reports

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