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News In Brief

By Staff writer of The Christian Science Monitor / January 29, 1999



"Negotiate or else," NATO Secretary-General Javier Solana told the warring sides in the Kosovo crisis. He said Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic must reduce his forces in the province to the level agreed to in the Oct. 12 cease-fire reached with ethnic Albanian separatists. But the alliance also said all armed separatists must immediately cease hostilities and provocative actions. Solana said NATO was "increasing preparedness" to ensure that its demands were met and "rules out no option." The long-awaited ultimatum came as Serb and separatist forces engaged in a new battle along the Kosovo border with Albania.

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Antiaircraft fire from Iraqi ground batteries in the northern "no fly" zone was answered with another attack by US jets, military sources said. They also confirmed that the US air base at Incirlik in Turkey was put on high alert after reports of a possible Iraqi missile launch, although no attack took place.

The UN peace mission in Angola will be told to leave, a government official said. A request to allow a scaled-down force to try to oversee the 1994 UN-brokered accord between the government and UNITA rebels would be denied, he said. The government renounced that accord Wednesday. The UN's current mandate expires Feb. 26, although humanitarian aid operations will be permitted to continue, the spokesman said.

Almost 3,000 Army troops and police were ordered into the city hardest hit by the earthquake in Colombia. The move was made necessary after survivors in the coffee-growing center of Armenia - tired of waiting for government aid to arrive - smashed their way into scores of businesses and carried off food, bottled water, and other items. President Andres Pastrana flew back to the city to assume command of the relief and security effort.

A lunchtime bomb explosion two blocks from South African President Nelson Mandela's office in Cape Town injured 11 people, police said. There was no immediate claim of responsibility. The city has been tense for weeks because of confrontations between the police and radical Islamic activists. A protester died Jan. 8 when the police fired into a demonstration against visiting British Prime Minister Blair over his country's role in attacks on Iraq.

A half-day siege by suspected Muslim rebels ended peacefully in the southern Philippines when local elders talked them into leaving a school in which hundreds of people were trapped. The incident followed renewed fighting between Army troops and guerrillas of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front since the end of the Ramadan holy month. President Joseph Estrada denied claims by officials in the area that the hostage-takers were using those inside the school as human shields against an Army attack.

Membership in the Communist Party in France is down to only 210,000 people, its leader said. Unlike their counterparts elsewhere in Western Europe, French Communists were close followers of Kremlin doctrine but have had difficulty adapting to the collapse of the Soviet Union. Analysts say the Communists could even lose their three seats in the French Cabinet after elections for the European Parliament in June.