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News Briefs

January 10, 1996
Web posted at: 11:55 p.m. EST (0455 GMT)

Residents say 60 killed; Liberian peace jeopardized


TUBMANBURG, Liberia (CNN) -- Fierce fighting in western Liberia is threatening an August 1995 peace deal to end years of bloodshed.

Residents in Tubmanburg reported that at least 60 soldiers with the African peacekeeping force were killed in battles with rebels last week.

However, the Economic Community Military Observer Group (ECOMOG), a division of the Economic Community of West African States, said there were only seven deaths.

Last month, ECOMOG deployed forces to disarm some 60,000 combatants and bring an end to six years of war. ECOMOG says it will meet the January 15 deadline for disarmament.

The civil war broke out in December 1989, when the government headed by President Samuel Doe was overthrown, causing a breakdown of law and order in the country.

The fighting began in Tubmanburg as a clash between rival militias. ECOMOG units, most of them Nigerian, were swept up in the fighting when they tried to separate the factions.

A dozen earlier accords failed to end conflict, which has killed about 150,000 people.

Aid group: Zaire plane crash toll is higher


KINSHASA, Zaire (CNN) -- An international aid group said Wednesday the death toll from Monday's plane crash in Zaire is higher than previously announced by authorities.

According to Doctors Without Borders, at least 350 people were killed when the cargo plane crashed into a crowded market in Zaire's capital, Kinshasa.

The government estimated earlier that 264 people had died.

The organization said another 470 people were injured in the crash, which is among the worst civilian air disasters of all time. The cause of the crash remained under investigation.

Cousteau's Calypso rammed by barge, sinks


SINGAPORE (CNN) -- The Calypso, explorer Jacques Cousteau's famed research ship, sank after it was accidentally rammed by a barge in the Singapore harbor Tuesday. No injuries were reported in the incident.

According to a statement issued by the Cousteau Society, the 55-year-old craft was left lying at a 70-degree angle on the bottom of the harbor after the maneuvering barge crashed into it, creating a gash in Calypso's hull below the waterline.

Calypso, a former minesweeper, was already set for retirement and the sinking will accelerate the construction on its replacement, the Calypso II, according to the Society.

The Calypso II, which Cousteau has called a ship "for the children of the world," could be seaworthy within a year.

Albert Falco, the Calypso's longtime captain, was in Singapore arranging for the vessel to be refloated and taken to another port for retirement. A final port had not been decided upon.

U.S. soldier in South Korea accused of attempted rape

S. Korea alleged rape

SEOUL, South Korea (CNN) -- An American soldier was arrested Wednesday on charges he attempted to rape a South Korean woman, the U.S. military command said. Pvt. Terrence Hines was in U.S. military custody. His age and hometown were not mentioned in a news release that said Hines was accused of breaking into the Korean woman's apartment near the U.S. main military compound in central Seoul.

The news release said Hines injured his head while fleeing the scene after South Korean police arrived. Under an agreement between the two countries, South Korean police must hand over to U.S. authorities any U.S. soldier accused of crime. Suspect remain under U.S. custody until all court appeals are completed.

Report: Eight groups gave money to Chun

Chun Doo-Hwan

SEOUL, South Korea (CNN) -- Heads of eight South Korean business groups gave $36 million to former president Chun Doo-hwan between 1980 and 1987 in return for favors, state television quoted prosecution officials as saying Wednesday. The eight are Miwon, Hanwha, Ssangyong, Dong Ah Construction, Daelim, Kumho, Dainong and Chinhung groups, KBS television said.

The companies reportedly were named in the arrest warrant for Chun's former chief bodyguard, who was arrested and detained Wednesday. Chun, already indicted for allegedly masterminding a 1979 coup, was alleged to have built up a huge slush fund during his 1980-88 term in office. State media quoted prosecution officials as saying Chun had amassed more illegal funds than his successor as president, Roh Tae-Woo.

Roh, who is on trial on charges of bribery, has confessed to amassing $654 million in slush funds during his 1988-93 term in office. Prosecution officials have never mentioned the exact amount of Chun's slush funds.

Blizzard paralyzes northern Japan

Japan snow storm

TOKYO (CNN) -- A blizzard dumped snow across northern Japan for a third day Wednesday (774K QuickTime movie), bringing most ground transportation to a near halt and forcing flights to be diverted. Military troops were mobilized to clear snow and direct traffic in Sapporo, the capital of Japan's northernmost main island of Hokkaido. More than two feet (0.6 meter) of snow had piled up there by morning.

A National Police Agency official said there were no reports of deaths or injuries from the blizzard. On Japan's main island of Honshu, heavy snowfall forced "bullet" trains to run at a reduced speeds, affecting about 60,000 passengers with delays of up to one hour, said railway spokesman Hiroshi Hayashi. In contrast, Tokyo and other cities on Japan's Pacific coastal region had clear skies Wednesday.



Associated Press and Reuters contributed to this report.

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