The Salina Journal from Salina, Kansas on May 10, 1997 · Page 8
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The Salina Journal from Salina, Kansas · Page 8

Salina, Kansas
Issue Date:
Saturday, May 10, 1997
Page 8
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AS SATURDAY, MAY 10, 1997 INTERNATIONAL THE SALINA JOURNAL V ITALY Tower takeover Venetian separatists overrun after 7-hour standoff By PIERO VALSECCHI The Associated Press VENICE, Italy — The uniformed men bought their ferry tickets just after midnight and boarded like all the other passengers. Then, they pulled a submachine gun and ordered the captain to sail to one of Venice's most famous landmarks. St. Mark's Square. The men, eight Venetian separatists who the city's chief prosecutor calls "crazies," began a bizarre 7'/ 2 -hour takeover Friday of the piazza's famed bell tower. Police commandos ended the takeover in just 10 bloodless minutes. By midmorning, the tourists were strolling the piazza as usual. But while the 324-foot tower that presides over the heart of this city of canals was out of danger, the political fallout was just beginning. The drama started when the eight men, wearing camouflage, boarded the ferry with an armored vehicle and a camper. Capt. Giovanni Girotto thought they were just another load of military passengers. Somehow, they managed to get the vehicle off the ferry, park it, break into the tower and take up positions inside without anyone stopping them. It was not until 1:30 a.m. that a passer-by alerted police. Hundreds of police then sealed off the square, and authorities spent most of the night trying to negotiate with the men. "Even crazies must be taken se- T MIDDLE EAST The Associated Press Police special forces arrest one of the self-proclaimed Venetian separatists who had driven an armored car to St. Mark's Square in Venice, Italy, and taken over the famed bell tower. riously until you're sure it's a bluff," said the chief prosecutor, Mario Daniele. The separatists unfurled a banner proclaiming that the "government" of a new Venetian republic had taken the tower, which dates from the ninth century. Around dawn, they interrupted a local TV broadcast with a powerful transmitter. "Attention, the Most Serene Venetian government has occupied the bell tower of St. Mark's," a faint male voice said. The commando raid came at 8:30 a.m., from three fronts of the tower. Some police rushed in the front door, others came through a low window, and another batch climbed up outside on scaffolding set up for repair work. Six separatists inside the tower were quickly overpowered; two more inside the homemade armored vehicle surrendered without a fight after the commandos threatened to blow it up. U.S. envoy continues peace talks By The Associated Press JERUSALEM — U.S. envoy Dennis Ross pushed forward Friday with efforts to restart the stalled Mideast peace process, and high- level Israeli and Palestinian security officials met for the first time in weeks. But the two sides remained far apart on returning to the negotiating table. BRIEFLY Zairian president won't run again LIBREVILLE, Gabon — Letting his country wait, Zairian President Mobutu Sese Seko kept his plane on the tarmac Friday in neighboring Gabon, fueling speculation that he will choose exile rather than fly home as promised. The ailing dictator, dying of cancer and losing a seven-month civil war, has agreed to long-delayed elections and acknowledged he is too ill to be a candidate. Despite repeated assurances by his aides that Mobutu would return Friday to Kinshasa, diplomatic sources said he would remain in neighboring Gabon for another night. South African Deputy President Thabo Mbeki met Friday with rebel leader Laurent Kabila in the southern Zairian city of Lubumbashi. U.S. asks Nigeria to detain Gadhafi WASHINGTON — The United States, accusing Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi of violating United Nations sanctions, asked Nigeria to detain the aircraft on which Gadhafi flew to that country. Gadhafi was aboard one of four aircraft that flew Friday to the Nigerian capital Abuja after an initial stop in neighboring Niger. State Department spokesman Nicholas Burns said the United States is asking officials in Niger and Nigeria about the facts of the case. "We will be very disappointed with both of those governments if in fact they aided and abetted the Libyan dictator to fly in violation of the U.N. sanctions to both of those countries," Burns said. Palestinian accused of selling to Jews is killed RAMALLAH, West Bank — A Palestinian accused of selling Arab homes and land to Jews was found dead Friday, and an Islamic leader declared him an infidel who could not be buried in a Muslim cemetery. The killing followed an announcement Monday by Palestinian Justice Minister Freih Abu Medein that Palestinians caught selling land to Jews would face the death penalty. The Palestinian Legislative Council is debating whether to enact such a law. The body of 60-year-old Farid Bashitit was found in the West Bank city of Ramallah early Friday with his hands tied behind his back, Palestinian officials said. One official said he died of a blow to the back of the head. From Wire Service Reports Israeli and Palestinian security officials met in Tel Aviv in the presence of American representatives, a condition imposed by Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat. Ross had talks with Arafat for the second time in two days. Ross has been shuttling between Arafat and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu since arriving in the region Wednesday. After meeting with Arafat late Friday night in Ramallah, in the West Bank, Ross was circumspect. "We are going back and forth between the two parties to look at all the possibilities and to find ways to overcome the differences," he said. "We still have work to do, but there is a genuine interest on both sides to find solutions." 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