Talks don't slow child abductions

KAMPALA, Uganda - Rebels have seized dozens of children in recent weeks, including 100 during a raid in the Central African Republic and 30 on the Sudan-Congo border, a senior military official said yesterday.

The raids by suspected Lord's Resistance Army rebels occurred despite peace talks to end the two-decade-long conflict. The United Nations estimates that rebels have abducted 20,000 children since the start of their rebellion in 1987.

Boys are trained as fighters and porters, while the girls are used as sex slaves, the United Nations says. Human Rights Watch on Monday called for international action to end the rebels' abductions and atrocities.

- AP

Europe itinerary set for Bush

WASHINGTON - President Bush will head to Europe in June to confer with allies on matters of war, terrorism and trade.

The White House yesterday confirmed the outline of Bush's trip, which uses the U.S.-European Union summit in Slovenia as a launch point. The president will then travel to Germany, Italy, France and Britain. While in Italy, Bush will visit the Vatican. The trip runs from June 9-16.

Bush will also mark the 60th anniversary of the Marshall Plan and the Berlin Airlift.

- AP

Japan 'drop box' gets 17 babies

TOKYO - An anonymous baby "drop box" in southern Japan received 17 babies from around the country in its first year of operation, news reports said yesterday.

The Catholic-run Jikei Hospital in Kumamoto City created the "Stork's Cradle" after a series of high-profile cases in which newborns were abandoned in parks and at supermarkets. People can leave babies in an incubator via a small hatch on the side of the hospital. The children are cared for by the hospital, then put up for adoption.

It is illegal to abandon babies in Japan, but police say they do not try to find the parents of babies left at hospitals or children's homes. The facility in Kumamoto, 550 miles southwest of Tokyo, is the only baby drop box in Japan.

- AP

Elsewhere:

Northern Ireland

police arrested an Irish Republican Army suspect over his alleged role in the killing of an undercover British soldier more than 30 years ago. Capt. Robert Nairac was abducted by an IRA gang May 14, 1977, and shot in the head.

Norway's King Harald V

yesterday presented the Abel Prize for mathematics to American John Griggs Thompson, 75, who teaches at the University of Florida, and Belgian-born Jacques Tits, 77, a professor emeritus at College de France in Paris.

A German Muslim

was convicted and sentenced to 31/2 years in prison for stabbing a rabbi in the stomach. Sajed Aziz was convicted in Frankfurt state court of serious bodily injury in a September attack.