EVENTS

VERDICT CRITICIZED IN POLICE BEATING Rodney King yesterday joined federal prosecutors and black leaders in criticizing the two-and-a-half-year sentences given the two policemen convicted of beating him. Prosecutors said they may appeal. Mr. King was clubbed, kicked, and stomped March 3, 1991, after leading police on a car chase that began when they tried to pull him over for speeding. The two policemen had faced a maximum of 10 years in prison and $250,000 in fines for violating King's civil rights. In explaining why he imposed less than the r ecommended sentence, US District Judge John Davies said the officers acted legally during the first 67 seconds of the tape and stepped over the line only after King became submissive during the final 19 seconds. King brought much of the beating on himself, the judge concluded. US Bosnia official quits

In Washington, Marshall Freeman Harris, the US State Department's top specialist on Bosnia, resigned Wednesday, accusing the Clinton administration of pushing for the plan to carve up the former Yugoslav republic. The departure underscores continuing internal discord over US policy in the former Yugoslavia.

Mr. Harris's predecessor, George Kenney, similarly resigned a year ago to protest Bush administration inaction in the region. Explosions in China

Two huge explosions at a military warehouse and natural gas reservoir yesterday left at least 70 people feared dead and 200 injured in the southern Chinese city of Shenzhen, news reports said.

A release of nitric acid sparked the first blast, according to the Hong Kong China News Agency. Fire crews and police were trying to control the blaze when a nearby natural gas reservoir exploded. Hong Kong's Asia Television said the first blast occurred in an explosives warehouse run by the Chinese military, but the report could not be immediately confirmed. Angola bombs rebels

Angolan fighter planes unleashed more bombs on the rebel-held city of Huambo yesterday, a day after an attack destroyed Red Cross headquarters and killed dozens of civilians.

Fighting has intensified in central Angola over the past week as the government has launched an offensive against the rebels' efforts to consolidate territory and drive to the coast. Liberian rebels' edge

A US State Department secretary accused of relaying secret documents to Liberian rebels may have given the guerrillas a battlefield edge as they pushed a fierce offensive that nearly won them the Liberian capital.

A State Department cables clerk was accused Wednesday of smuggling secret diplomatic papers to a West African journalist who was charged with sending them by facsimile to Liberian rebels. Rebel commander Charles Taylor started the war in 1989 in an attempt to topple the dictatorship of President Samuel Doe. The war collapsed into factional fighting that has killed an estimated 150,000 people. Indian riot probe

The Indian Peoples' Human Rights Commission, conducting an independent human rights investigation, has accused Bombay police of siding with Hindu extremists during communal riots and of opening fire on innocent Muslims.

About 1,000 people died in Bombay in December and January during Hindu-Muslim riots, the worst in the city's history. The riots erupted after zealous Hindu nationalists destroyed an ancient mosque in northern India. Far more Muslims died in the riots than did Hindus, the majority in India. Factory orders rise

Orders to US factories rose 2.6 percent in June, the best gain of the year, pulled higher by a surge of orders to aircraft manufacturers, the government said yesterday. June marked the biggest increase since December, when orders soared 5.6 percent.

Manufacturing has been one of the economy's weak spots this year, in part because domestic consumer demand has been spotty and in part because downturns abroad have led Europeans and Japanese to buy fewer US goods.

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