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Border gunmen seize seven military observers

SUKHUMI, Abkhazia: Seven UN workers were taken hostage by unidentified gunmen yesterday near the line separating Georgian government forces and the breakaway territory of Abkhazia.

A spokesman at the UN mission in Sukhumi, the capital, said UN military observers from Uruguay, Sweden, Greece, the Czech Republic and Switzerland had been taken, along with a UN doctor from Germany and an Abkhazian translator.

The UN group had just arrived by helicopter in the mountain village of Azhara to deliver aid when they were seized, said Mr Astamur Tarba, minister for state security in Abkhazia.

Drugs ring smashed

MILAN: Police in Italy were last night seeking scores of suspects in what they claimed was a massive drug-trafficking and money-laundering ring.

They had earlier arrested a Roman businessman who previously had been implicated in Italy's biggest post-war banking scandal.

Authorities said Flavio Carboni played a key role in the ring, which allegedly smuggled cocaine from Peru to Italy and then laundered the profits.

Carboni was arrested yesterday morning in Milan, along with a brother and two sons. In all, police issued 68 warrants in connection with the alleged ring.

In 1997, Carboni was charged with conspiracy to commit homicide in the death of financier Roberto Calvi, who was found hanged under Blackfriar's Bridge, London, in 1982, after the collapse of Banco Ambrosiano.

Aznavour hurt in crash

DIJON: Singer Charles Aznavour was hurt yesterday when the car he was driving smashed into a lorry in central France.

Aznavour, aged 74, was trying to pass the lorry when he was surprised by the speed of an oncoming car. He swerved his Mercedes to get out the way, but crashed into the back of the tow truck.

The singer appeared to be in shock when help arrived. He was taken to a nearby emergency room and later released.

Post Script

TAIPEI:Taiwan is trying to ban the public chewing of betel nut, a mild stimulant whose red juice stains teeth and pavements.

The city wants to discourage the consumption of the green acorn-sized nuts because it is the main cause of mouth cancer on the island.

Under a proposed law people caught chewing betel nuts in public places - including schools, train stations and airports - could be fined up to pounds 60.
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Publication:The Birmingham Post (England)
Date:Oct 14, 1999
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