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Beached whales shot in S. Africa

CAPE TOWN, South Africa - Authorities shot dozens of exhausted whales that beached on a shore yesterday near South Africa's storm-lashed southern tip amid scenes of grief and despair from volunteers who had tried to save them.

Fifty-five false killer whales washed up on the shores of Kommetjie, near the Cape of Good Hope, in the early morning, prompting a massive all-day rescue effort. Hundreds of locals braved high winds and rough waves to try to push the massive mammals from knee-deep water back into the open sea, to no avail.

Plans to transport the whales by road to a deep-water naval base were shelved when it was decided their health had deteriorated too much. Scientists then decided there was no alternative but to kill about 35 whales to prevent further suffering. A further 10 died of stress. It was feared that the whales that managed to escape were too exhausted to survive. - AP

A survey details rapes in Darfur

NEW YORK - A survey of women who fled violence in Darfur found that one-third reported or showed signs of rape, and it revealed a widespread fear of sexual violence in their refugee camp in Chad, the U.S.-based group Physicians for Human Rights reported today.

About half the rapes were carried out in Darfur by janjaweed militiamen allied to the Arab-dominated government in Khartoum, and half were assaults by Chadian villagers near the U.N. refugee camp, the group's report said.

The group reached the 88 women included in the survey through camp leaders and word of mouth - a sampling method that the report said hinders drawing general conclusions about the prevalence of rape in Darfur or in the Farchana refugee camp in Chad. Sudan's government denies any systematic rape or violence against women. - AP

3 hanged in Iran at bombing site

TEHRAN, Iran - Less than 36 hours after a deadly bombing in southeastern Iran, three men were hanged yesterday in front of the same mosque they allegedly targeted, official media reported.

Local television broadcast images of the hanging, including of spectators watching the execution, according to BBC Monitoring, which tracks Iranian broadcast media.

Iranian authorities accused the men of involvement in the Thursday bombing in the city of Zahedan that left as many as 25 people dead and 125 injured. Authorities alleged the men were tied to Jundallah, an ethnic Baluch separatist group that is fighting Iran's government.

Jundallah said on its Web site that the men had long been in prison and that none was involved in the mosque bombing, for which it has claimed responsibility. - L.A. Times


Amnesty International has asked the U.N. to publicize its estimate of civilian deaths in the final weeks of Sri Lanka's civil war amid escalating reports over how many died.

Lebanon charged four people yesterday with collaborating with Israel, raising to 23 the number of suspected spies charged in the last few months, a court official said.