World Watch

6 minute read

After 2.5 Million Killed, Hope of Peace
Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of the Congo (formerly known as Zaïre) signed an agreement to end the four-year war that has killed about 2.5 million people and effectively divided one of Africa’s biggest countries in two. The agreement, signed in South Africa, requires Rwanda to withdraw its troops from eastern Congo within three months. In return the Congolese government in Kinshasa would disarm the Hutu responsible for the 1994 genocide of Tutsi tribespeople in Rwanda and send their leaders for trial before an international court. Skeptics questioned the deadline, and an organization representing Rwandan Hutu rebels in Congo rejected the peace deal. The Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda said they would not return voluntarily to Rwanda and would resist any attempt to “trample” on their rights.

Not Dead Yet
In a five-page proclamation in the Eleftherotypia newspaper, the Marxist terror group Revolutionary Organization 17 November announced that it was “still alive.” The text said that while “many fighters” had been lost14 suspected members were arrested during Julythe battle was not over. 17 November said that officials should be braced for more action, including hostage taking, in the near future. The Greek government, its antiterrorist units and foreign intelligence agencies debated whether the text was genuine. Greek police said that its down-to-earth style was suspicious: in the past, the group claimed responsibility for its attacks by issuing dense and intellectually abstract messages.

Mine Blast
Ukraine President Leonid Kuchma promised to close all unsafe coal mines following an explosion that killed 20 minersthe third major mining accident in the country in recent weeks. The blast occurred 1,076 m below ground at the Zasyadko mine in the eastern Donetsk region when about 700 miners were in the pit. Ukraine’s aging mines are among the world’s most dangerous.

Elections Amid Bloodshed
India’s Election Commission announced that voting for seats in Kashmir’s state assembly would start next month despite continuing bloodshed. India accused Pakistan of not doing enough to curb Islamic militancy after four suspected militants and one Indian army officer died in a gun battle in Rajouri in Indian-administered Kashmir. At least 69 peopleIndian security forces, Kashmir militants and civiliansdied across Indian Kashmir. And police remained on high alert as 100,000 Hindu pilgrims, above, amassed in the state.

Gorge Aggression
Two Russian combat planes crossed into Georgian airspace and bombed the mountains on the border with Chechnya, Georgian officials claimed. Film from the Pankisi Gorge, a valley in the northern Caucasus Mountains, showed large craters on a hillside and dead sheep, said to have been killed in the strike. Russia denied the allegations but accused Georgia of sheltering Chechen terrorists. The U.S., worried that Pankisi could harbor al-Qaeda activists, has sent soldiers to Georgia to train antiterrorism forces.

False Dawn
Forces belonging to Sudan’s government reportedly began an offensive against rebels in the south of the country just days after an apparent breakthrough in talks to end the 19-year-old civil war. The rebel Sudan Peoples’ Liberation Army said that more than 1,000 people had been killed since the attacks began in the oil-rich Equatoria region. The Khartoum government denied the claim.

Death Comes Even to the Safe Places
A bomb planted by Islamic militants devastated a crowded cafeteria at Hebrew University in Jerusalem, killing seven people (of whom five were U.S. citizens) and wounding more than 80. The Mount Scopus campus had been one of the few places in which Israeli Jews and Israeli Arabs still mixed, and students had felt safe there. Hamas said the attack was revenge for the assassination of one of its leaders, and the deaths of 14 other people, in Gaza. In response, Israel sent tanks and troops into Nablus.

Murder Attempt
A man who narrowly failed to explode a car bomb in central Kabul was an al-Qaeda member attempting to assassinate Afghan President Hamid Karzai, said local officials. Only a traffic accident prevented the half-ton bomb from going off in a high-security area that includes Karzai’s offices, the American embassy and the headquarters of United Nations peacekeepers. The bomber’s car collided with another vehicle and then aroused suspicions by immediately speeding away. Police chased it and caught the driver but not his passenger.

No Primary Role
The National Assembly voted to reject the appointment of Chang Sang as the country’s first female Prime Minister. President Kim Dae Jung said the vote was a blow to his country’s women and that South Korea could not expect to become successful if its women continued to play a secondary role. The vote against Chang followed allegations that she had conducted ethically dubious speculation in land, claimed falsely to have studied at Princeton University and encouraged her son to take U.S. citizenship to avoid military service: all denied by Chang.

True or False?
The Vinland Map, seen since the 1950s as possible proof that Norse explorers reached North America before Christopher Columbus, has been branded a fake. British scientists analyzed the composition of the map’s ink and discovered that it dates from the 1920s or later. However, the forger almost got away with it. A forthcoming academic paper reports that carbon-dating methods show that the parchment on which the map was drawn was made around 1434. But the map’s defenders are holding fast. “If it is a forgery, then the forger was surely one of the most skillful to pursue this line of work,” said chemist Garman Harbottle of the Brookhaven National Laboratory. Besides, say others, archaeologists have found Norse settlements in Newfoundland dating from about 1000.

Strikes and Riots
Looting broke out in the capital Montevideo as workers held a general strike to protest the country’s worsening economic crisis. Demonstrators threw rocks and robbed supermarkets, bakeries, butchers’ shops and a pizzeria before the police moved in. The rioting came two days after the government ordered banks to close to stop people withdrawing their savings in reaction to Argentina’s continuing crisis.

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