With heavy casualties on both sides, the Northern Alliance was claiming to have quelled a three-day-old revolt by captured Taliban fighters inside a fortress in the northern Afghan city of Mazaar-e Sharif. Five US soldiers seriously wounded in the fighting were en route to a military hospital in Germany. Meanwhile, Afghan groups at the UN-sponsored conference in Bonn agreed they could reach a deal on an interim power-sharing government in as few as three days. (Stories, pages 1, 2.)
No immediate comment was offered by Sri Lankan President Chandrika Kumaratunga to a broadcast speech by the leader of the Tamil Tigers rebel movement declaring that the nation's long civil war is not about "separation." Velupillai Prabhakaran appealed to Kumaratunga to find a political solution and said "permanent peace" was possible if the Tamil minority was offered justice. The 18-year conflict, long considered a fight for an autonomous Tamil home- land, has killed an estimated 64,000 people.
At least 28 people were killed and as many as 80 others were taken hostage (below) in fighting between Muslim rebels and government troops in the southern Philippines. As the Monitor went to press, the two sides were in a tense standoff in the port city of Zamboanga, with the rebels using the hostages as human shields. The government's inability to stamp out the rebels is seen as a major embarrassment to President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, especially since Zamboanga is the headquarters of the Army's southern command. The standoff was being covered live on national television.
Machine-gun fire from North Korean troops hit a guard post used by South Koreans at the Demilitarized Zone between their halves of the peninsula in a new sign of deteriorating relations. The South Koreans returned fire. No casualties were reported on either side and no other "unusual military movements" were detected, a senior South Korean official said.
In a new effort to bridge the racial divide caused by decades of official discrimination, South Africa's ruling African National Congress and its longtime apartheid foe, the New National Party (NNP), announced a power-sharing deal. The accord gives the ANC a foothold in the Western Cape province, formerly dominated by a coalition of predominantly white parties from which the NNP split, in return for a return to representation in the national government.
Crucial elections scheduled for Jan. 27 in Macedonia were postponed indefinitely after parliament cancelled a vote, required under the August peace agreement, to dissolve itself. But the session ended abruptly amid accusations by the main opposition party, which supports the January election date, that the Speaker has impeded the peace process.