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Two people were slightly injured when they opened one of eight letter bombs mailed to addresses in Israel and a Jewish settlement in the occupied West Bank, Israeli police said yesterday. The other letter bombs were defused without causing injuries. The return address on all of them was listed as D. Nissim, Istanbul, Turkey, police said.

Soviet `Star Wars' stance looks negative to Powell

Reagan's national security adviser told Congress yesterday that the US and the Soviet Union are divided over the President's space-based anti-missile program and a broader interpretation of the 1972 ABM treaty. In a letter distributed yesterday, Lt. Gen. Colin Powell said Moscow had indicated that the issue could lead to suspension of talks on a long-range missile treaty.

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South African homeland ousts leader in coup

The Army in the black homeland of Transkei staged a coup yesterday and ousted Stella Sigcau, the recently elected prime minister, accusing her of corruption. Maj. Gen. Bantu Holomisa, the Army commander, announced he had taken power as head of a military council. He declared martial law, suspended the constitution, and outlawed political activity.

Mrs. Sigcau took office in October after the Army intervened to oust her predecessor, George Matanzima.

President Ortega plans to increase troops

President Daniel Ortega said Tuesday he plans to increase Nicaragua's defense forces from 300,000 men to more than 1 million, but he also called for a new round of peace talks with the contras. His comments were in response to a recent statement by his brother, Defense Minister Humberto Ortega, who said that Nicaragua's armed defense forces would be doubled to 600,000 by 1995.

Separately, a Honduran newspaper yesterday said the contras were shifting positions in that country, possibly to conceal their presence there.

Philippine military leader defies coup leader release

Gen. Fidel Ramos yesterday said the Philippine military would defy a civil court order to release an alleged coup leader so he could campaign for vice governor in next month's regional elections. Regional court Judge Maximiano Asuncion issued the release order for former Col. Rolando Abadilla after a $7,000 bail was posted.

Colonel Abadilla has been held since July on weapons charges and for his alleged involvement in coup attempts last year.

Musavi: Iran can make chemical arms but hasn't

Iranian Prime Minister Mir Hossein Musavi denied yesterday that Iran was making chemical weapons but said it could do so if necessary. In London, however, the Independent newspaper reported that Iran had agreed to supply Libya with chemical arms in return for Soviet Scud missiles.

It quoted ``informed sources'' in Tripoli and Tehran as saying Iran had developed chemical mortar shells and rockets designed for use against ships, tanks, and troops.

Iraqi attack breaks lull in threat to Gulf shipping

Iraq said yesterday its warplanes attacked a tanker off the Iranian coast, breaking a four-day lull in strikes on Gulf shipping that coincided with a summit meeting of Arab nations. In another development, Iran reported yesterday that two children were killed and three adults were injured Tuesday in Iraqi air raids.

S. Korean farmers protest possible US beef ban lift

South Korean riot police yesterday dispersed several hundred livestock farmers, who were protesting outside the US Embassy against the possible lifting of a ban on imports of US beef. US beef was banned in South Korea in 1985, but Washington wants the ban lifted to help reduce its $10 billion annual trade deficit with the Asian nation.

Economic indicators drop 1.7 percent

Falling stock prices last month pulled down the key index of leading indicators at the steepest rate in 3 years, the Commerce Department said yesterday. Three-quarters of the 1.7 percent decline in the index was caused by the slide in share prices since the 508-point October 19 stock market collapse. It was the largest decline since a matching 1.7 percent fall in July 1984.

The last time the broad-based measure of the economy's future suffered a bigger slump was six years ago amid the 1981 recession, when it dropped 2.2 percent in September that year.

But the government significantly revised this year's October and September indexes to show growth in each month of 0.2 percent instead of a 0.2 percent decline in October and a flat September.

Sudan teacher arrested over slave report

The co-author of a controversial report on the re-emergence of slavery in a remote area of Sudan reportedly has been arrested in Khartoum, the nation's capital. Ushari Ahmed Mahmoud, who teaches at the University of Khartoum, was arrested for questioning on charges of antistate activity, according to a Reuters dispatch from Khartoum.

The government of Prime Minister Sadiq al-Mahdi has denied slavery exists in Sudan. The report by Mr. Mahmoud and a colleague, which was completed this summer, documents cases of people who say they were held and forced to work involuntarily and without pay in remote areas of western Sudan. The captors, members of the Rizeigat tribe, staged armed raids on Dinka villages, taking prisoners, according to the report.

The two tribes have raided each other for cattle and captives for decades. But in the past few years the government has been arming Rizeigat villages in what it says is an effort to give them a means to protect themselves from a rebel movement that is reportedly largely made up of Dinka. The professors' report said this policy has made raids by the Rizeigat more destructive.

For the record

Zimbabwean Prime Minister Robert Mugabe was elected as Zimbabwe's first executive president yesterday. The US said yesterday it was considering cuts in aid to El Salvador's judiciary following a court decision to grant amnesty to the gunmen who killed two US labor advisers and a Salvadoran official in 1981.

Two Chinese diplomats were expelled from the US last week for activities incompatible with their diplomatic status, the State Department said yesterday.

Marine Corps' women recruits will, for the first time beginning next month, undergo combat training with grenade launchers, anti-armor weapons, and machine guns, the Corps announced Tuesday.

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