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Greenland Natives Battle Denmark

March 2, 1999

COPENHAGEN, Denmark (AP) _ A group of Greenland Inuits started a court case this week demanding compensation for being forced out of their homes when a U.S. air base was expanded.

The case stems from 1953, when the United States expanded its air base at Thule. The base in the northwestern sector of the Danish territory was a key installation of the Cold War.

Denmark allows the United States to use Greenland, the world’s largest island, for certain military purposes. But the American presence is resented by many Inuits, the indigenous people of Greenland.

The group of 79 Inuits, calling themselves ``Hingitaq 1953″, meaning ``Outcasts 1953″ in Greenlandic, are demanding $23.1 million in compensation for hunting grounds lost when they were moved out of the area.

In another recent dispute involving the Thule air base, the Danish government paid a total $15.5 million to 1,700 radiation-injured Danes and Greenlanders in 1995. The victims were local residents and workers cleaning up after a U.S. bomber carrying atomic bombs crashed in 1968, spreading radiation over a wide area.

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