Criticism of the political and social crisis in Zimbabwe by the Commonwealth was defiantly rejected by President Robert Mugabe, who refused again "ever" to order armed black squatters to end their illegal occupation of white-owned farms. Addressing a rally of his ZANU-PF party, Mugabe said "we need half" of the 30 million acres of land in white hands. Whites, he added, are free to leave Zimbabwe. Meanwhile, another opposition supporter was beaten to death by ZANU-PF followers. His parents were hospitalized after the assault, and four others were reported missing.
Four hostages died in a rescue attempt by Filipino troops, who stumbled onto a band of Muslim rebels trying to force them across a stream. But the rescuers did free 15 captives, although five were reported wounded. The rebels escaped with an unknown number of others and later apologized for the casualties in calls to local radio stations. Reports that two hostages being held by a related group of rebels nearby had died could not be confirmed immediately.
An appeal for help from Indian Navy units was being considered by neighboring Sri Lanka, where 35,000 government troops were being advanced upon by Tamil rebels. Sri Lanka lacks sufficient air or sea transportation to extricate the soldiers, currently attempting to defend the northern city of Jaffna. Its fall would be a major setback for President Chandrika Kumaratunga, who must call parliamentary elections before August. India sent troops in 1987 to help disarm the rebels, withdrawing them in 1990.
The promised hour for returning dozens of captured peacekeepers and unarmed observers to the UN in Sierra Leone had not been met by rebel forces as the Monitor went to press. An unspecified number of peacekeepers died and at least three others were wounded - in addition to the captures - earlier this week in clashes that UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan blamed on rebel leader Foday Sankoh. Analysts say Sankoh appears interested in trying to derail the fragile peace process even though last year's accord with the civilian government gives him a power-sharing role. Thousands of his followers have yet to surrender their weapons.
Automatic teller machines were running out of cash and consumers were hoarding bread, milk, and other goods in the face of Norway's biggest strike since 1986. At least 85,000 private-sector union members walked off the job in a dispute over pay, disrupting transportation, retail trade, food production, the hotel industry, communications, and other businesses. The Labor Ministry said it had no plans to intervene unless it determined there was a danger to life or health.
An immediate appeal was to be filed by a Kuwaiti sentenced to be hanged for serving as "prime minister" during the seven months that Iraqi occupation forces controlled the oil-rich sheikhdom. Alaa Hussein Ali al-Khafaji al-Jaber, a former Army reservist, was found guilty of treason, although his lawyers argued that he'd been coerced into accepting the post.
(c) Copyright 2000. The Christian Science Publishing Society