News Briefs

April 4, 1996
Web posted at: 10 p.m. EST (0300 GMT)

Perry issues veiled threat on Libyan weapons plant


WASHINGTON (CNN) -- A Libyan plant believed to be meant for the production of nerve gas is vulnerable to American military strikes, at least until it is completed, U.S. Defense Secretary William Perry said Thursday.

Perry said Wednesday that the U.S. military was prepared to use force against the plant. Thursday, he backed up that statement, saying that the United States would not allow the plant to be completed. However, he also said that the United States could still use diplomatic means to deter Libya from constructing the plant. "We're certainly not at that point yet," he said, referring to possible military action.

His statements contrasted with a Time magazine report on the Libyan project this month, in which the magazine said the plant was virtually impervious to ground or air attack. Perry said that Time's assessment of the plant only held true if the plant was completed.

Libya maintains that the plant will produce commercial pharmaceuticals. U.S. intelligence photos appear to indicate that the facility will produce chemical weapons.

Scottish school will destroy site of shootings


LONDON (CNN) -- The site of a shooting spree that left 16 Scottish schoolchildren and a teacher dead will be razed next week, the school's local council said Thursday. A crazed gunman entered the Dunblane Primary School gymnasium last month, shooting and killing 16 5- and 6-year-olds and a teacher, then turning the gun on himself.

The decision to pull down the gymnasium, taken after consultation with relatives of the victims and teachers, was first suggested by British Prime Minister John Major's reaction when he visited the scene of the tragedy last month. At the time, a stunned Major stared at the bullet-riddled gym and said, "We must pull this down."

The local council will provide funds to replace the gym. News media have been asked to show respect for the privacy of suffering families by staying away from the demolition.

The shooting has also led to calls for tighter British gun controls. The gunman, Thomas Hamilton, had been issued multiple firearms licenses. He used four guns in his attack on the school.

North Korea abandons buffer with South Korea

North and South Korea map

SEOUL, South Korea (CNN) -- After North Korea announced Thursday it will no longer recognize the demilitarized zone separating North and South Korea, Seoul warned that it would retaliate for any provocation.

North Korea said it was abandoning any responsibility to maintain and control the DMZ, a 2.5-mile stretch meant to discourage military conflict. It was established at the end of the Korean War in 1953.

North Korean officials want to dissolve the truce and sign a bilateral peace treaty with Washington that excludes South Korea. The United States is backing South Korea's opinion that the truce should be inter-Korean.

South Korea and the United Nations called North Korea's move a dangerous step that puts it in position to provoke South Korea and wring concessions from the international community by increasing tensions in the area.

Police confirm only 10 dead in Indonesia mall fire

JAKARTA, Indonesia (CNN) -- Forensics experts have corrected the death toll from last week's Indonesian mall fire, confirming only 10 deaths instead of 77.

The discrepancy stemmed from confusion over burned mannequins that police thought were bodies. Police carried the mannequins in body bags to the morgue, where they were mistakenly added to death toll.

All of those who died were female mall employees. Police are investigating six workers, including the mall's manager, in connection with the fire.

Russia, Chechens argue over bombings

Russia/Chechnya map

GROZNY, Russia (CNN) -- Chechen villagers expressed shock and anger Thursday about two bombings they say Russian troops carried out after Russian President Boris Yeltsin declared a cease-fire.

The villages had signed peace pacts with the military, but the attacks have caused them to question Russian motives and intentions.

Russian troops continue to deny responsibility for the bombings, but villagers and Chechen rebels believe the attacks were carried out by government forces.

The attacks in southwestern Chechnya this week killed at least two people and damaged or destroyed hundreds of homes.

Shots fired near Yeltsin home


MOSCOW (CNN) -- The Russian Interior Ministry said gunmen fired shots near Russian President Boris Yeltsin's home Wednesday night, adding to security worries exacerbated by presidential elections coming up in 10 weeks.

The shots were reportedly fired near Yeltsin's house, but Itar-Tass news agency said the presidential home was not the target. Other officials were denying that any shots were fired at all.

Security is already tight in Moscow because of the conflict in Chechnya, particularly since a bomb was planted in a city bus last month. The bomb was defused before it could explode.

No one was reported hurt in Wednesday's incident.


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