Teams find 211 bodies in mass graves

Published May 6, 2007

BOGOTA, COLOMBIA - Forensic teams have unearthed 211 bodies buried in dozens of mass graves near a single town in southern Colombia in the past 10 months, a legacy of fierce fighting in this coca-rich land.

Chief prosecutor Mario Iguaran said Saturday that investigators exhumed 105 bodies alone on Friday near La Hormiga, 340 miles south of Bogota in the province of Putumayo. Investigators believe the victims were killed between 1999 and 2001.

Historically a key region for growing the coca plant that is used to make cocaine, the Putumayo jungles are the scene of almost daily fighting between leftist rebels, far-right paramilitaries and state security forces.

Iguaran said that based on information from residents, authorities suspect the paramilitaries and the rebels were responsible for the killings.

His office estimates 10, 000 murdered Colombians lie in unmarked graves across this South American country, in its fifth decade of civil conflict.


Protests continue against government

ISTANBUL, TURKEY - More than 10, 000 Turks gathered in two western cities Saturday to protest the Islamic-rooted government, calling for Turkey's secular system to be preserved. The protests in Canakkale and Manisa follow prosecular demonstrations in Ankara and Istanbul that were attended by more than a million people. Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan's government has come under heavy pressure in the run-up to presidential elections, with secularists fearing that he would expand his party's control by appointing a close ally, Foreign Minister Abdullah Gul, to the post. Most of his party's members are Muslims who made their careers in the country's Islamist political movement.


Hamas leader rejects America's time line

GAZA CITY, GAZA STRIP - Khaled Mashaal, the leader of Hamas, rejected a U.S. proposal for a detailed time line to ease Palestinian movement and improve Israeli security, instead threatening new violence against Israel. He said Israel is planning a military operation against the Palestinians and urged all Palestinian groups to "seriously prepare themselves for battle."

ISRAEL: Defense Minsiter Amir Peretz said Saturday he will step down after an inquiry commission criticized his handling of the war in Lebanon last summer, but he will probably wait until his Labor Party's primaries at the end of the month.


Shining Path founder plans prison wedding

LIMA, PERU - A cell block wedding is reportedly in the works for the founder of Peru's Shining Path guerrilla movement, whose 20-year clash with the government left more than 70, 000 dead through the 1980s and 1990s. Abimael Guzman, 72, proposed marriage last fall and will wed his second-in-command, 59-year-old Elena Iparraguirre, on an unknown date, Iparraguirre told Caretas magazine last week. The longtime lovers are serving life sentences for terrorism in separate prisons. Apparently Peruvian law does not prohibit the marriage and would, according to Caretas, allow them six conjugal visits a year.


LAGOS, NIGERIA: Gunmen seized a British oil worker from a rig Saturday, a spokesman for Transocean Inc. of Houston said. It brings to 22 the number of people seized in armed attacks within 36 hours in Nigeria's troubled southern oil region.

ROME: A 73-year-old woman died in an Italian hospital because tubes carrying oxygen and anesthesia were switched, and authorities were investigating whether the error was responsible for as many as seven other recent deaths, officials and news reports said Saturday.

BEIJING: An explosion Saturday afternoon in a coal mine outside Linfen city in central China killed 15 miners and trapped others, the state-run Xinhua News Agency reported.