News In Brief

The governments of Nicaragua and Honduras were trying yesterday to minimize a major border incident between the two countries. The incident came Friday, when Honduran jets reportedly shot down a Nicaraguan helicopter after Nicaragua launched mortar shells into Honduran territory.

Nicaragua, however, did not respond to the Honduran attacks with any action of its own. The Hon-duran government, for its part, did not call for an Organization of American States investigation of the incident, a common response to such incidents. Honduras' only further response to the situation was to send part of an Army battalion to the border area.

Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega Saavedra called Saturday for a meeting with President Roberto Suazo C'ordova.

Several Honduran political analysts said President Suazo C'ordova overreacted to the situation. These analysts link the Honduran military reaction against Nicaragua to what they see is the new situation created by US congressional approval of $27 million in aid to Honduran-based Nicaraguan rebels, called ``contras.'' The analysts say the US aims to increase the contra forces from 12,000-15,000 troops to roughly 25,000-30,000 troops.

According to a moderate Honduran newspaper editor, the presence of an increased contra force presents severe problems for Honduras. Such a force would almost automatically constitute a state within a state since it would be much larger than Honduras' 18,000-20,000-man Army.

The Honduran government, according to Honduran analysts, wants to make it clear to Nicaragua that if it attacks Honduran territory in response to contra actions it will increase the risk of confrontation with Honduran armed forces.

Honduran observers also link their country's military response to presidential elections Nov. 24 and the desire not to appear weak in the eyes of the Honduran public. The observers stress constant US pressure on the Honduran government to maintain a situation of confrontation with Nicaragua's government.

Swedes go to polls in test of Socialist strength

Swedes cast ballots Sunday to chose between the outgoing Socialist government of Prime Minister Olof Palme and a conservative challenger. Mr. Palme, one of Europe's best known socialists, is seeking his third term in the election, Sweden's first nationwide balloting since 1982. He is opposed by a coalition of three non-socialist parties seeking to make Conservative leader Ulf Adelsohn his party's first prime minister since 1928.

Soviets oust 25 Britons in retaliatory action

Soviet officials Saturday ordered 25 Britons to leave the Soviet Union, the Foreign Office announced. The Soviet action came two days after Britain's announcement that Oleg A. Gordievski, a Soviet Embassy counselor identified as the KGB's chief spy in London, had been granted asylum in Britain and that 25 other Soviet diplomats, officials, and journalists would have to leave the country.

The Soviet action was the largest diplomatic expulsion since Stalinist times. Among those ordered out were five British journalists.

Saudi Arabia to purchase jet fighters from Britain

The official Saudi press agency said Saturday the government has completed a deal with Britain for a major purchase of jet fighters. London's Sunday Times placed the value at $4.8 billion. Israel yesterday denounced the planned arms sales and accused Britain of undermining the stability of the Middle East.

US antisatellite test was `flawless,' says official

The United States conducted a ``flawless'' test of an antisatellite weapon Friday afternoon about 345 miles above the Pacific Ocean, a government spokesman said. In its first-ever test against an actual object in space, the missile guided itself after launch from an F-15 jet toward an old Air Force scientific satellite, destroying it through the sheer force of impact, said Air Force Lt. Gen. Bernard P. Randolph.

Anonymous caller says US hostage freed in Beirut

An anonymous caller claiming to speak for the Islamic Jihad (Holy War) told a foreign news agency yesterday that the group had freed Benjamin Weir, one of seven kidnapped Americans in Lebanon. Mr. Weir, a Presbyterian minister, has been missing since gunmen abducted him in West Beirut in May, 1984. There was no word on his whereabouts and United States Embassy officials could not be contacted immediately for comment.

US official announces study of radioactive gas radon

A national survey will be conducted to locate seepage of the radioactive gas radon, which is released when uranium decays, said Richard Guimond, an Environmental Protection Agency official, in a workshop here Saturday. The gas can seep through the ground into basements. It is believed that people in homes tightly sealed by weatherizing can run increased health risks from the gas.

Kidnappers attempt contact with El Salvador government

The kidnappers of Salvadorean President Jos'e Napole'on Duarte's daughter have tried to contact the government at least once, government sources said yesterday. Officials Friday said President Duarte had named a three-man commission to assess and devise options for any demands made by the kidnappers of his eldest daughter, Ines Guadelupe Duarte Duran. They said they had no new leads to the identities of the gunmen.

Bolivia bankers charged with sedition

Bolivia's central bank chief and five top executives have been charged with sedition after signing a document in support of striking bank workers, Information Minister Reynaldo Peters said Friday. He told reporters bank director-general Jaime Castro and the executives had also been charged with insubordination and attacking the freedom to work under a decree that places public services and assets under military control.

Rail cars carrying sulfuric acid derail in Texas

Twenty-six railroad tanker cars containing sulfuric acid derailed and fell onto a riverbank late Saturday, causing a fish kill and the evacuation of about 300 people within a mile of the mishap, authorities said. The derailment, on a bridge over the Medina River about 6 miles southwest of San Antonio, prompted officials to dam the river to prevent further damage downstream.

Neo-Nazi group ordered assassinations, witness says

Members of The Order, a neo-Nazi group, were each assigned assassination targets including Henry Kissinger and the heads of the three television networks, a federal court jury was told Friday. Denver Daw Parmenter II, a government witness in the trial of 11 members who are accused of racketeering, also told the jury that one team had discussed bombing a hotel to kill Baron Elie de Rothschild.

Fierce fighting in Aspen's fourth annual tomato war

About 500 people descended on this mountain town 38 miles east of Aspen Saturday to pelt each other with overripe tomatoes in the fourth annual Tomato War. A cease-fire was called after four hours of fighting. The ``Tomalamo'' grew out of the annual influx of Texas tourists to the Rockies for vacations.

``We hate Texans because they come to jam our [ski] chairlift lines and drop hundred-dollar bills all over,'' one Coloradan commented.

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