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After tsunami disaster, reports of child rapes
 
JAN 2: A teenager in Sri Lanka who escaped death but was left orphaned and homeless by the tsunami met yet one more agony: gang rape, one of several cases of child abuse being investigated in the disaster zone.

The governmental agency is investigating several complaints of sexual abuse in centers housing tens of thousands of survivors.

Sexual crimes were an aspect of Sri Lanka's 20-year-long ethnic war. Women's activists said they had frequent reports of Sinhalese soldiers raping Tamil women, although few were prosecuted. Tamil rebels have been fighting for independence in the northern and eastern provinces, claiming discrimination by the majority Sinhalese who dominate the government.

The gang-raping of the 17-year-old girl occurred in the area of Galle on the southern coast of Sri Lanka but not in a refugee center. Hours after being washed ashore and left orphaned and homeless, she was raped by six men.

Since Friday, two other cases of suspected abuse of children were reported, including one by a man who attempted to molest his granddaughter, reports say. All the reported cases were in the south.

A church-run welfare center near Colombo, the capital, folded up its relief operations Friday after the clergymen heard that a minor had been abused, a relief worker who was working at the church said, speaking on condition of anonymity. The refugees were transferred to a government-run center.

Nearly 30,000 people died when the tsunami swamped the island a week ago Sunday. Children account for about a third of the dead and displaced.

Children suspected of being abused were taken under the protection of child welfare authorities.

 

North Korea warns of nuke showdown

 

Pyongyang, North Korea, Jan. 2 -- North Korea warned the danger of nuclear war on the Korean peninsula is growing in a New Year's editorial published in its three major newspapers.

"The danger of a nuclear war is growing on the Korean peninsula as the days go by, owing to the U.S. moves to stifle the (North Korea)," the editorial said.

"All Koreans should stage a powerful struggle for peace against war in order to drive the U.S. troops out of South Korea, remove the very source of a nuclear war and defend the peace and security on the Korean peninsula."

The editorial called on the United States to end its hostile attitude toward North Korea, which U.S. President George Bush named to an "axis of evil" that also includes Iran and Iraq.

 
New Jersey man was only 'playing' with laser

 

PARSIPPANY, JAN 2 -- The attorney of a Lake Parsippany, New Jersey,  resident questioned by authorities about his suspected use of a laser light said Saturday her client was in the "wrong place at the wrong time."

David Banach was showing his daughter a common laser pointer that he had purchased on the Internet, said attorney Gina Mendola Longarzo. Longarzo said she met with Banach on Saturday.

"At one moment he was in the backyard playing with his daughter," said Longarzo, "and 10 minutes later 12 police cars descended and he was whisked away by authorities and interrogated until 4 a.m."

Banach was taken from his Pitman Road home Friday by state, local and federal authorities investigating the shining of green lasers onto aircraft flying over the region.

Longarzo said once authorities fully investigate the incident, her client will be exonerated. He has not been charged, she said.

Jay Patel, who lives across the street from Banach, said Banach often buys many toys for his two young children. Patel said Banach was not doing anything sinister.

"I don't think he was doing it purposely," Patel said.

On Friday FBI agents, police from the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey and a federal terrorism task force were seeking the source of green lasers that were aimed at separate aircraft flying over Morris County in the last several days.

A Port Authority helicopter was marked by a similar laser Friday during the search and authorities targeted the Lake Parsippany area for a possible source.

Several people have been questioned in connection with the incidents, which involved a corporate jet and a Port Authority of New York and New Jersey police helicopter. No arrests had been made Saturday, according to an FBI spokesman.

"It is an ongoing investigation," FBI Special Agent Steve Kodak said. "Nobody is in custody and there have been no arrests."

In New Jersey last week, both aircraft were targeted by the lasers in the vicinity of Teterboro Airport.

On Wednesday night, a pilot preparing to land the jet at Teterboro reported seeing three green laser beams about 11 miles from the airport.

Port Authority spokesman Steve Coleman said that plane was a corporate-owned Cessna with 13 passengers.

In addition to the Teterboro incidents, federal agents are looking into recent reports of lasers being shone at aircraft in Colorado Springs, Colo., Cleveland, Washington, Houston and Medford, Ore., according to law enforcement and transportation officials, some of whom spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity.

In some cases lasers locked onto aircraft several thousand feet up as they approached airports, federal officials said.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
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