Srebrenica massacre planned, report says

A Serb commission's final report on the 1995 Srebrenica massacre acknowledges that the mass murder of 7,800 Muslim men and boys by Bosnian Serb forces was planned, an international official said yesterday.

The report on the worst massacre of civilians in Europe since World War II was presented to the Bosnian Serb government last month but has not been made public.

"The report itself admits and provides details of the plan and deliberate liquidation of thousands of Bosniaks [Muslims] by the Bosnian Serb forces," said Bernard Fassier, deputy to Bosnia's top international administrator.

Although Bosnian Serbs have long been blamed for the massacre, it was not until June — following the Srebrenica commission's preliminary report — that Serb officials acknowledged that their security forces had carried out the slaughter.

Fassier said the report also gives names of people who "could be perpetrators" of the massacre, but declined to give any details.

Several Bosnian Serb troops and commanders have been convicted by the U.N. war-crimes tribunal in The Hague, Netherlands, for their roles in the Srebrenica killings.

Bosnian Serb wartime leader Radovan Karadzic and Ratko Mladic, his top general, are wanted for genocide and crimes against humanity in Srebrenica and elsewhere during the 1992-1995 war.

Ankara, Turkey

Man who shot pope could go free next year

A Turkish court yesterday reduced the prison term for Mehmet Ali Agca, who shot Pope John Paul II in 1981, allowing his release at the end of next year, his lawyer said.

Agca, 46, a Turkish citizen, was extradited to Turkey in 2000 after serving almost 20 years in Italy for shooting and wounding the pope in St. Peter's Square in Rome. His motives for the attack remain unclear.

Upon his return to Turkey, Agca immediately was sent to prison to serve a 10-year sentence for murdering Turkish journalist Abdi Ipekci in 1979. He was separately sentenced to seven years and four months for two robberies in Turkey the same year.

The Istanbul court ruled yesterday that Agca should serve only the longest sentence.

Abidjan, Ivory Coast

Loyalists, military face off outside home

Thousands of government loyalists massed outside the home of President Laurent Gbagbo yesterday, facing off against French armored vehicles in response to urgent appeals for a "human shield" around the hard-line leader.

The French denied surrounding the house or intending to oust Gbagbo, saying forces only were securing a temporary base at a hotel a few hundred yards away for about 1,300 foreigners who had taken refuge at a French military base.

French and Ivory Coast military leaders, appearing together on state television, appealed for calm following three days of violent protests the Red Cross said had wounded more than 500 people. Two hospitals reported five dead and 250 wounded in yesterday's clashes alone.

Chaos erupted Saturday when the Ivory Coast air force killed nine French peacekeepers and an American aid worker in an airstrike on Ivory Coast's rebel-held north. France responded by destroying most of its former colony's military aircraft. The Ivory Coast government later called the bombing a mistake.

France has more than 4,000 peacekeepers in Ivory Coast, helping a 6,000-man U.N. force uphold what had been a more than one-year cease-fire in a civil war that broke out in September 2002. The cease-fire ended last week when the government began bombing the rebel north.

Wellington, New Zealand

Sister replaces mayor convicted in sex case

Pitcairn Island has selected the first female mayor in its 214-year history after the former leader of the remote Pacific community was fired following his conviction on sex charges, British authorities said yesterday.

The seven-member governing council on the isolated island, first settled by mutineers from the HMS Bounty, unanimously chose Brenda Christian, the sister of ousted Mayor Steve Christian, to fill the post until a Dec. 15 election, British High Commission spokesman Bryan Nicolson said.

Brenda Christian is the island's former police officer.

Managua, Nicaragua

Sandinistas gain in local elections

Nicaragua's leftist opposition Sandinista party, which fought a civil war with U.S.-backed contra rebels when it governed in the 1980s, made strong gains in weekend elections by retaining control of the mayor's office in the capital, Managua, and winning mayoral races in 15 of the nation's 17 provincial capitals.

The governing Constitutionalist Party has been weakened by internal feuding and a recent drive to remove President Enrique Bolanos amid campaign-finance and corruption allegations.


Protests against dam were largest in years

In one of the largest demonstrations against China's government in years, tens of thousands of farmers in southwestern areas of the country, furious over plans to build a hydroelectric dam, organized a protest movement that lasted more than a week, according to witnesses and foreign press accounts.

The first demonstration, in late October in Sichuan province, drew more than 70,000 people, while another one Friday was said to involve at least 30,000 people. Two protesters were run down and killed by military vehicles, and at least one police officer was reported killed.

The government-controlled media were silent on the demonstrations, and local officials refused to confirm the incidents, making it difficult to get a complete picture of the violence.

The incidents have drawn China observers into a debate over the scope of unrest and the question of whether the country could reach a tipping point in which public anger coalesces into a national protest movement capable of challenging Beijing's rule.