News In Brief

An influential panel of bishops of the United Methodist Church, whose 9.4 million members comprise the third-largest church body in the US, has drafted a pastoral letter denouncing the use of nuclear weapons and the doctrine of nuclear deterrence, the New York Times reported yesterday. The pastoral letter and an accompanying 100-page ``foundation document'' also affirms that the nuclear arms race adds to social injustice in the world.

The four-page message, titled ``In Defense of Creation: the Nuclear Crisis and a Just Peace,'' is to be debated and voted on Tuesday at a semiannual meeting of the United Council of Methodist Bishops, in Morristown, N.J. It is expected to be approved with little change.

The conduct of Libyans during a US air raid earlier this month has been strongly criticized by Jamahriya, a Libyan weekly newspaper published by revolutionary committees. The paper accused the state-owned Tripoli Radio of false reporting and of leaving the population unprepared during the attack.

The article was the first public admission that Libyan air defenses were slow to respond and may not have been as effective as officials claimed. Libyan news media have hitherto portrayed Libya as victorious in the raid.

Arab groups have claimed responsibility for the bombing of American Express offices and the killing of a British executive in Lyon. But police are skeptical of links between the two crimes. Alain Jezequel, police chief for Lyon, said on Saturday an anonymous caller for a group called the Revolutionary Arab Front said it was behind the pre-dawn explosion which caused a fire and destroyed the sixth floor offices of Amercian Express and Control Data, another US firm, in the city's central business district.

The killing less than 24 hours earlier of Kenneth Marston, the British managing director of the US power tools company Black & Decker, was claimed by an anonymous caller from what appeared to be an Arab group.

Soldiers fired into a crowd marching on Haiti's main prison Saturday, killing three demonstrators. Three others were electrocuted when power lines were knocked down, witnesses reported. The march, involving an estimated 10,000 people, had been called to mark the 23rd anniversary of a crackdown by the Duvalier family government then in power. The prison is believed to have held political prisoners during the authoritarian rule of the Duvaliers.

This month's explosion of a Titan rocket carrying a secret military cargo has dealt a major short-term blow to the Pentagon's ability to launch big spy satellites. Defense officials and private analysts say the second consecutive Titan failure at Vandenberg Air Force Base, Calif., on April 18, coupled with the loss in January of the space shuttle Challenger, could delay launches of KH-11, an $800 million craft whose photographic abilities play a major role in monitoring arms control treaties, or KH-12 ``Keyhole'' reconnaissance satellites, for up to a year.

Some 50,000 citizens, nearly one tenth of this country's population, came to see a three day ceremony to crown Swaziland's new king, Mswati III. The young successor to the Swazi throne had returned regularly to his homeland from England, where he is still a pupil at a leading British public school. His father, King Sobhuza II, died in 1982 after a 61 year rule over this tiny southern African kingdom made him the world's longest reigning monarch.

As a frontline state and a member of the Organization of African Unity, Swaziland managed to achieve a fragile balance with neighboring white-ruled South Africa and the rest of the continent.

A Belgian delegate to the European Parliament said upon returning from Romania Saturday that the communist East European nation wants to cooperate with the European Community in fighting international terrorism. Anne-Marie Lizin, a Socialist, said she discussed terrorism and Libya with Romania's foreign affairs minister, Ilie Vaduva, last Wednesday. Mr. Vaduva reportedly plans to contact EC nations shortly to cooperate with the West in dealing with terrorism. Ms. Lizin also said Vaduva stressed that he saw no direct link between terrorrism and Libyan leader Muammar Qaddafi.

A British tourist was shot and killed Sunday as he was about to enter a Protestant holy site in the city's Arab sector. Police said they could not immediately establish a motive, but the killing appeared to be one of a recent series of terrorist attacks against tourists.

The young Briton was found in a narrow street outside a door leading into the Garden Tomb, which Protestants believe was the site of Jesus' crucifixion and burial.

Saudi Arabia tried yesterday to defuse tension between Persian Gulf neighbors Bahrain and Qatar, after Qatari helicopters attacked an offshore site where Bahrain was building a coast guard station. The reef is one of several islands and marine areas over which ownership is disputed between the two countries, allies in the six-nation Gulf Cooperation Council.

The editor of the state-owned October magazine said in Saturday's edition that the Soviet Union warned Libya an hour in advance of the US air raids, giving Libyan pilots time to fly their planes to safety in Sudan. Salah Montaser, attributing his report to sources he said were close to the Reagan administration, said that only four or five Libyan planes were damaged in the April 15 raids on Tripoli and Benghazi because US officials informed the Soviet Union of the raids and they, in turn, immediately warned Libyan leader Muammar Qaddafi.

John Poindexter, the US national security adviser, told reporters in Los Angeles Saturday that the US did not inform the Soviets in advance of the raids.

A federal judge said Saturday that striking transportation workers must return to work, temporarily ending a walkout that had stranded an estimated 25,000 commuters for one day. The order will restore commuter service that halted Friday on lines in and out of the city operated by the Boston & Maine Railroad for the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority.

An estimated 3,500 workers in 11 sympathetic unions represented by the Railway Labor Executives Association joined members of the Brotherhood of Maintenance of Way Employees who struck March 3.

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