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Wednesday, May 21, 2003

Indonesian troops kill rebels in Aceh BANDA ACEH, Indonesia — Indonesian troops killed or captured dozens of insurgents in its northwestern province of Aceh Tuesday, the second day of a major offensive aimed at destroying a separatist rebellion. The guerrillas pledged "a drawn-out war."

In her first remarks about the offensive, President Megawati Sukarnoputri said she ordered the operation with a heavy heart and urged the country to back her.

"I hope this action will be understood and supported by all the Indonesian people, including those groups working for democracy and human rights," said Megawati.

Megawati signed a decree Sunday authorizing six months of martial law and ordering 30,000 government troops to crush about 5,000 poorly armed guerrillas in the oil- and gas-rich region.

World leaders, meanwhile, urged Jakarta to resume peace talks to end the fighting. The conflict has simmered for 27 years and has killed 12,000 people, mainly during outbursts of fierce fighting.

U.S. military report ignites Pakistani anger ISLAMABAD, Pakistan — A U.S. military report giving new details on Pakistani help during the war to oust Afghanistan's Taliban regime angered Islamic leaders Tuesday, who said the government wasn't honest about the extent of its assistance.

Leaders of hard-line religious parties threatened to call street demonstrations to protest the revelations. Some urged the resignation of Pakistan's president, Gen. Pervez Musharraf, a key ally in the U.S. campaign against terrorist groups.

The critics focused on figures in a U.S. Central Command's report saying that 57,800 air missions over Afghanistan crossed Pakistani air space or originated on Pakistani soil and that 8,000 U.S. Marines used a Pakistan port as a transit point to the war zone.

The hard-liners, already angry over Musharraf's siding with Washington, said the report contradicted the government's statements that operations of the U.S.-led coalition in Pakistan would be limited and would involved only supply and rescue missions.

WHO gives approval to anti-tobacco pact GENEVA — The World Health Organization gave its preliminary approval Tuesday to a treaty that would severely curtail tobacco advertising around the world and try to keep companies from marketing tobacco products to teenagers.

Ministers at the WHO meeting said the treaty could save millions of lives.

"What we are doing today will be written in bold letters in world history," Mauritian Health Minister Ashok Jugnauth told WHO's policy-making assembly. "Generations to come will not only thank us, but a lot of them will owe their lives to us."

The treaty bans or restricts tobacco advertising, introduces more prominent health warnings and control the uses of terms like "low-tar" on cigarette packs. It provides for tougher international measures against second-hand smoke and cigarette smuggling, and espouses manufacturer liability.

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The treaty was approved unanimously by the health assembly's main committee and now goes to the full World Health Assembly meeting today, where approval is considered a formality. The treaty takes effect after 40 countries have ratified it.

Aid workers uncover atrocities in Congo BUNIA, Congo — New evidence of atrocities surfaced Tuesday in a northeastern Congo region that has been split by tribal fighting.

Aid workers said Tuesday they had found 231 bodies of people killed since May 4 on the streets of Bunia, including women and children, some decapitated, others with their hearts, livers and lungs missing.

U.N. officials are already investigating reports that acts of cannibalism were carried out during the clashes. On Monday, church leaders and residents in Bunia said fighters killed civilians and combatants, cutting open their chests and ripping out hearts, livers and lungs, which they ate while they were still warm.

The aid workers warned that the death toll may rise because they have searched only nine of the town's 12 neighborhoods.

Some bodies were so decomposed after being left in the hot sun for days that they were buried where they were found, while others were burnt by residents.

The aid workers did not want to be identified for fear of retribution from the rival Hema and Lendu tribal factions, which have been battling over Bunia, the capital of the resource-rich Ituri province, for days.

Copyright © 2003 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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