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News In Brief

December 30, 1985



Moscow

The Soviet news agency Tass swiftly condemned the explosion of a hydrogen bomb in the Nevada desert Saturday, calling the test of US space-defense technology ``an evil New Year present.'' The US Department of Energy said a hydrogen bomb with a payload equal to 150,000 tons of TNT was detonated underground about 100 miles northwest of Las Vegas. The test was part of Strategic Defense Initiative research into the feasibility of harnessing a bomb's X-ray emissions for a powerful antimissile laser.

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Rebels launch rockets against Afghan garrisons

Muslim rebels rocketed four Soviet-backed Afghan army garrisons near the border with Pakistan on Friday to mark the sixth anniversary of the Soviet intervention in Afghanistan, exiles in Peshawar said yesterday. Meanwhile, Afghanistan accused Pakistan of trying to block a settlement to the war by refusing to negotiate directly in UN-sponsored peace talks.

A sixth round of the talks, aimed at achieving the withdrawal of Soviet troops from Afghanistan and the return of about 4.5 million Afghan refugees, ended inconclusively on Dec. 20.

See related story, Page 7.

NSA seeks ways to protect noncritical government data

The National Security Agency, in an effort to thwart potential espionage, is beginning research into ways to encode most of the messages sent each year by agencies of the federal government and defense contractors, according to the New York Times. Today encoding is done routinely only by US law enforcement and intelligence agencies, the Department of Defense, and the State Department.

The NSA's new program would extend encoding to other agencies as a means of protecting financial, contracting, and technical information from unauthorized access.

Military courts sentence more than 200 in Pakistan

Pakistan's military courts have sentenced more than 200 people to long jail terms and stiff fines in a rush of activity before they are abolished with the expected lifting of martial law today. And in Islamabad, parliamentarians said they believed President Muhammad Zia ul-Haq will announce an end to 81/2 years of martial law today, but newspapers said he may impose a state of emergency.

46 are charged in deaths during Philippines protest

A joint military and civilian fact-finding committee recommended Saturday that a mayor and 45 soldiers be charged with murder in connection with the deaths of 20 demonstrators killed during a human rights protest. The demonstrators were killed Sept. 20 in Escalante on Negros Island when soldiers opened fire on more than 5,000 people, mostly farmers, protesting human rights violations under the rule of President Ferdinand Marcos.

Reagan and Gorbachev to give New Year's messages

President Reagan will deliver a taped New Year's Day message on Soviet television and a similiar message from Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev will be offered to the American networks, the White House said over the weekend. In Moscow, the Soviet minister of civil aviation announced that direct air service between the Soviet Union and the United States will begin April 27 for the first time in more than four years.

Iranians reportedly decide to abandon Kharg Island

Shipping sources said yesterday that Iran plans to abandon battered Kharg Island as its main oil terminal because of repeated Iraqi air raids. And the Iranian navy seized the Danish ship ``Hornland'' in the Gulf of Oman Saturday, after spotting five crates of explosives intended for Iraq aboard the vessel.