News In Brief

Five prominent leaders of Kosovo's majority Albanian population were "executed" by Serb forces, NATO alleged. Air Commodore David Wilby told a Brussels news conference the alliance had reliable reports of the murder Sunday of Fehmi Agani, a negotiator at the recent peace talks near Paris. Among the other victims: Baton Haxhiu, editor in chief of the province's main Albanian newspaper.

Russia's three top government leaders are due in Yugoslavia today for talks with President Slobodan Milosevic. The stated purpose of the trip is to seek "an immediate halt" to punitive NATO airstrikes. But it was unclear whether Prime Minister Primakov, who leads the delegation, would bring any proposals to present to Milosevic. There was speculation that his mission - in part - was to show Russian support. Russia strongly opposes the NATO attacks, and some Kremlin officials have openly suggested breaking the international arms embargo against Milosevic's regime.

A deep split opened in the ranks of Cambodia's government as a senior Justice Ministry official threw his support behind an international tribunal for the genocide trials of captured Khmer Rouge guerrilla leaders. Seng Sivutha said Cambodia's own courts were corrupt and too unsophisticated to take on cases of such magnitude. Premier Hun Sen has rejected UN pressure for such a tribunal, insisting that Cambodian courts must conduct the trials.

Indonesian President B.J. Habibie was in a tight political bind after the Supreme Court tossed back to him a decision on whether his Cabinet ministers may campaign for the country's June 7 election - its first attempt at democracy in more than 40 years. The independent elections commission seeks to ban the ministers from campaigning on grounds that they'd use their offices to help the ruling Golkar Party - to which most of them belong. Analysts said Habibie risks angering the public and dozens of newly energized opposition parties if he decides in favor of the ministers. But if he rules otherwise, Golkar might not nominate him as its presidential candidate.

With an immediate pledge of support from the Army, new Paraguayan President Luis Gonzalez Macchi began his first full day in office. He succeeded Raul Cubas, who quit suddenly Sunday amid worsening street violence over his impeachment and last week's assassination of his rival, Vice President Luis Maria Argana. Gonzalez Macchi had been Senate president. Cubas now becomes a senator-for-life, with immunity from prosecution.

Landslides and communications breakdowns were preventing rescue crews from reaching areas jolted by a powerful earthquake in northern India, southern China, and parts of Nepal. Initial reports said at least 87 people died. The quake was of a higher magnitude than a 1991 tremor that killed more than 1,000 people in the same area.

US medical experts joined an international effort in Malaysia to control two viruses in pigs that are blamed for the deaths of at least 63 people. Authorities said 139,000 pigs - out of a targeted 1 million - so far had been slaughtered. An estimated 300,000 Malaysians raise pigs.

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