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Fit of pique blamed for attack on Buddhas

A Taleban envoy says the Islamic government of Afghanistan decided to destroy two giant Buddha statues in a rage after a foreign delegation offered money to preserve the ancient works while a million Afghans faced starvation.

"When your children are dying in front of you, then you don't care about a piece of art," Sayed Rahmatullah Hashimi, an adviser to the Taleban leader, Mullah Muhammad Omar, said Friday.

The destruction, he said, was prompted last month when a visiting delegation of mostly European envoys and a representative of the U.N. Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization offered money to protect the statues at Bamiyan.

Macedonia prepares for

hotter war with rebels

TETOVO, Macedonia _ The Macedonian government ordered a general mobilization of reservists Sunday to counter a 5-day-old guerrilla assault on its security forces in and around this city and began other preparations for a wider conflict.

Prime Minister Llubjco Georgievski declared in a televised speech to the nation that he would not negotiate with "terrorists." Tetovo, he said, will be subject to a nightly curfew beginning today.

He rebuked the United States and Germany, whose troops patrol the neighboring Yugoslav province of Kosovo as part of NATO's contingent there, for not doing enough to stop the rebels.

Left wins in Paris, Lyon,

but loses elsewhere

PARIS _ The Socialists wrested Paris City Hall from the nearly quarter-century grip of President Jacques Chirac's conservative party on Sunday, provisional election results showed, dealing a stinging blow to France's chief of state.

The left also took Lyon, another longtime bastion of the right, in Sunday's round of municipal elections but suffered numerous losses in other cities where Chirac's camp made gains.

But in Paris, openly gay Socialist Bertrand Delanoe, 50, declared victory over Philippe Seguin, a former leader of Chirac's Rally for the Republic party, late Sunday.

Massacre suspect escapes

from Colombian prison

BOGOTA, Colombia _ A paramilitary commander accused of organizing a massacre of 38 people has escaped from a Bogota prison, four days after drug smuggling suspects freed themselves from the same institution, a newspaper reported Sunday.

Martin Villa escaped from Modelo Prison on Feb. 25 by apparently disguising himself as a visitor and then simply walking out, El Tiempo newspaper reported.

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