3 November 2005 Edition

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News in Brief

Amsterdam

A fire in a migrant detention centre in Amsterdam has caused the death of eleven people while many others were injured. The blaze broke out soon after midnight on 27 October in the detention centre at Schiphol Airport. One detainee told Dutch radio how guards had initially ignored their warnings of a fire and their banging on the cell doors. This incident brought to light a plan by Dutch authorities to carry out a mass deportation, involving 26,000 people in the next three years. It has also made clear the appalling conditions in which detainees are kept.

Iran

Iran's President Ahmadinejad drew widespread criticism from the West when he told a student conference in Tehran on Wednesday 26 October that the state of Israel should be "wiped off the map".

In the face of international re-action, Iran's foreign ministry said Tehran respected the UN charter and had never used or threatened to use force. But it also rejected a UN Security Council statement condemning President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad over his comments

Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, was elected Iran's president in June 2005 after he had already made his mark as Tehran mayor for rolling back reforms. His presidential campaign focused on poverty, social justice and the distribution of wealth inside Iran. During his campaign. he also repeatedly defended his country's nuclear programme.

Kashmir opening agreed

India and Pakistan have agreed on an unprecedented opening of the de facto border in divided Kashmir to help victims of the 8 October earthquake that killed more than 56,000 people and left millions homeless with Pakistan-administered Kashmir bearing the brunt of the devastation. Families and relief items will be allowed across the border from 7 November, but only on foot. No vehicle crossings will be allowed.

Talks had been suspended and there were fears they might fail because of the series of bomb blasts that took place on Saturday 29 October in Delhi, killing 62 people and injuring nearly 200. Responsibility was claimed by a previously unknown Kashmir Islamic group called Ingilabi (Revolution).

India and Pakistan have fought two wars over Kashmir but are engaged in a peace process since 2004. Talks resumed following Pakistan's strong condemnation of the attacks.


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