WASHINGTON, Jan. 21 (UPI) -- Guatemalan officials are denying media reports that new guerrilla groups are organizing in the country.
A decade ago Guatemala emerged from a 36-year-long civil war, which killed more than 200,000 people, mostly civilians.
EFE news agency reported that Vice President Eduardo Stein told journalists in response to the appearance of banners earlier in the week in the northern jungle province of Peten bordering Mexico that "drug traffickers, who have been harmed by the actions of security forces are trying to scare the people by passing themselves off as guerrillas."
The Peten banners were signed by the "Poor Revolutionary Group" and urged inhabitants to join their insurgency, saying that the government had failed to comply with the 1996 peace accords.
In spite of a Guatemalan government determination that security forces committed 93 percent of all atrocities during the conflict, moves toward trying those accountable have been slow.
During the insurgency Peten was one of the major staging bases for the Guatemalan National Revolutionary Unity group, one of the four main rebel groups.
The government, with U.S. assistance, is moving against drug traffickers using northern Guatemala as a transit zone into Mexico for illicit drugs. Last week Defense Minister Francisco Bermudez said that the army, with U.S. aid, would dismantle clandestine drug landing strips in the Tiger Lake National Park near the Mexican border.
Later this year NATO will open a new intelligence center at a U.S. military base in England.
The new NATO facility, according to Pravda, is designed to facilitate intelligence exchange between NATO member states and is to "become the next milestone in the transformation of the Alliance following the new threats posed by the 21st century."
Construction of the new center, to be based at the U.S. Air Force base in Molesworth, England, is scheduled for completion within the next year.
Molesworth is the home of the U.S. European Command, U.S. Joint Intelligence Analysis Center, which is expected to work in close cooperation with the new NATO intelligence facility. The Joint Intelligence Analysis Center currently work with data to produce intelligence for an area of responsibility consisting of more than 77 countries across Europe, Africa and the Middle East. The center supports U.S., Allied and NATO commanders' mission planning and operations.
Russia is carefully tracking NATO's "mission creep" into Eastern Europe and former Soviet republics. At a Russia-NATO Council meeting in Brussels last month Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and Russian Defense Minister Ivanov expressed their concerns about an agreement allowing the U.S. to build four military bases in Romania, with Lavrov expressing skepticism that the "changes will comply with the adapted agreement on conventional armed forces in Europe."
The former Soviet states of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania are already NATO members and Ukraine, Azerbaijan and Georgia are eager to join the alliance. Moldova is requesting NATO assistance to pressure Russia to withdraw its peacekeeping forces in its troubled province of Transdnestr and replace them with NATO forces.
The Afghan media is reporting that al-Qaida's second in command, Egyptian doctor Ayman al-Zawahiri, survived a missile attack in Pakistan's Bajuwar agency tribal area.
The Jan. 13 raid took place in Damadola village, about 4.5 miles from Pakistan's border with Afghanistan. Eighteen people died in the attack.
Kabul's English language daily Outlook quoted al-Qaida operative Ahmad Suleiman as saying, "Sheikh Zawahiri is alive. Rumors about his death are baseless."
On Friday in Pakistan protests continued against the U.S. missile attack, with demonstrations held in cities and towns around the country. In a rare display of unity, the Muttahida Majlis-i-Amal, Peoples' Party Parliamentarians, Awami National Party, Muslim League and other political groups held a joint public meeting and mass demonstration in Peshawar to condemn the air strike.
The Muttahida Majlis-i-Amal had originally planned to march on Peshawar's U.S. consulate but later dropped the plan. A delegation of parliamentarians and leaders of different political parties later presented a three-page memorandum to the consulate, stating, "The U.S. government should tender an apology for killing innocent people in the missile attack and compensate the loss. America should stop supporting the military regime in Pakistan and help democratic institutions to flourish," adding that the raid in actuality had killed about 30 citizens.
Pakistani Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz condemned the raid and said that he would bring it up when he visits Washington this week.