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Saturday, March 13, 2004 - Page updated at 12:00 A.M.

World Digest
U.S. giving military support to Chad in fight with militants


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WASHINGTON — U.S. military cargo planes have been delivering food, blankets and other supplies to forces in Chad as they have fought Islamic militants there, and American surveillance aircraft have helped track the militants, officials said yesterday.

The Chadian army battled Islamic militants near a remote village on the country's western border with Niger this week, killing 43 members of a group suspected of links with al-Qaida, the Chadian government said. Three soldiers were also killed, the government said.

State Department spokesman Richard Boucher identified the militants as the Salafist Group for Call and Combat, an Algerian Islamic group the department has branded a terror organization. Boucher said no U.S. forces participated in the conflict.

A U.S. defense official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said U.S. military cargo planes have delivered basic supplies to the Chadian forces, and U.S. surveillance aircraft monitored and tracked the Salafist Group. The U.S. suspects al-Qaida may be recruiting and planning new attacks in Africa.

Forces free three captives in raid on Afghan village

KABUL, Afghanistan — Two Turkish engineers and an Afghan translator kidnapped in December were freed yesterday after a shootout between their captors and Afghan forces in a village 40 miles south of Kabul.

Interior Minister Ali Ahmad Jalali declined to identify the kidnappers, referring to them only as "terrorists." Previously officials said the Turks, who were digging wells, were abducted by a former militia commander, Afzal Khan, in a land dispute.

Brazil's president deeds land to descendents of slaves

KALUNGA, Brazil — President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva visited Brazil's largest community of the descendents of runaway slaves yesterday and handed them what their ancestors had fought for during three centuries: the title to their land.

Lula flew in a helicopter to the mountainous brushland — 250 miles from the capital Brasília — where the 4,000 Kalunga have lived in isolation for 300 years, working the land and practicing ceremonies traced back to Congo and Angola. they originally escaped from gold mines in Brazil's central highlands, settling in remote valleys to escape their slave masters.

In receiving the land title, the community will get exclusive access to the land, allowing encroaching farmers to be expelled.
 
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Lula also announced the extension of electricity to the Kalunga, improved medical services and a school. The dirt track to the community will be turned into a proper road, he said.

Greece seeks NATO help in Olympic Games security

ATHENS, Greece — Greece appealed to NATO yesterday for help safeguarding the Olympic Games scheduled for Athens Aug. 13-29.

The government asked NATO to provide aerial and sea surveillance against "a chemical, biological and nuclear incident." Greece is spending $800 million on security precautions involving 50,000 police and troops.

Five fans killed in stampede at soccer stadium in Syria

DAMASCUS, Syria — At least five people were killed and more than 100 injured when spectators stampeded during a riot in a soccer stadium in northern Syria yesterday.

The official Syrian news agency SANA said fights broke out between supporters of the teams Al-Jihad and Al-Fatwa shortly before their national championship match in the city of Qameshli, 450 miles northeast of Damascus.

Argentina to compensate children taken in 'dirty war'

BUENOS AIRES, Argentina — Argentina will compensate children who were detained, stolen or born in captivity during a brutal 1976-1983 dictatorship, President Néstor Kirchner said yesterday, asking them to forgive the state.

An estimated 30,000 people died in the military's "dirty war" against suspected leftists.

Many military officials adopted babies of murdered mothers who gave birth in detention, and now thanks to DNA testing, some of those children are learning their real identities.

The children stand to receive up to $75,000 each under Kirchner's compensation bill, which still needs the approval of the government-dominated Congress.

Copyright © 2004 The Seattle Times Company

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