Cuba rejects offer to rejoin the OAS

HAVANA - Cuba is formally rejecting an offer to rejoin the Organization of American States, echoing the sentiments of Fidel Castro, who has long maintained his island has no use for the group.

The OAS voted last week to lift a decades-old suspension of Cuba's membership. A statement published yesterday in the communist newspaper Granma says the government is satisfied "with this expression of sovereignty and community" but repeats that Cuba "will not return to the OAS."

It said that the OAS had long supported Washington's hostility toward Cuba and that Cuba preferred to retain its independence.

The United States supported the move to lift the suspension of Cuba's membership. - AP

IRA dissidents lose landmark suit

BELFAST, Northern Ireland - Four IRA dissidents and their Real IRA group were found responsible yesterday for the worst extremist attack in Northern Ireland in a landmark civil case brought by the families of the 29 people killed in a 1998 car bombing in the market town of Omagh.

Belfast High Court Judge Declan Morgan awarded more than 1.6 million pounds ($2.5 million) in damages to 12 relatives who filed the suit.

The judge said Real IRA leader Michael McKevitt was a senior figure in the dissident republican paramilitary group at the time of the bombing and was heavily involved in the procurement of explosives.

Dissidents bombed several Northern Ireland towns in 1998 in hopes of undermining public support for the Good Friday peace accord achieved earlier that year. The trial marked the first time that victims of Northern Ireland terrorism have sought justice through a civil action. - AP

2d climber's body found; 1 missing

BEIJING - Rescuers struggling through high winds and blizzards recovered the body of a second American climber yesterday after an avalanche buried a team of three U.S. mountaineers in southwestern China last week, an official said. One of the Americans was still missing.

The body of photographer Wade Johnson, 24, of Arden Hills, Minn., was uncovered yesterday morning by a team of Chinese rescuers.

The rescue team had been scouring Mount Gongga in Sichuan province for the two missing U.S. mountain climbers after the body of Jonathan "Jonny" Copp, 35, of Boulder, Colo., was found Saturday.

Three search teams are now on the mountain looking for Micah Dash, 32, also of Boulder, but are facing rough conditions, said Gao Min, a spokesman for the Sichuan Mountaineering Association.

- AP

Elsewhere:

Gunmen in southern Thailand opened fire on a mosque during evening prayers yesterday, killing at least 10 people and wounding 19, police said. The attack was one of the most deadly since an Islamic separatist insurgency erupted in Thailand's three southernmost provinces in 2004.