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News In Brief

By Robert M. Press / December 31, 1987


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.

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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.

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.