News In Brief

An indian combat jet shot down a Pakistani Navy surveillance aircraft, killing 16 people. Both countries claimed the plane was shot down in their own territory. Indian officials said the wreckage was a mile south of the Indian-Pakistan border, in Gujarat state; Pakistanis said the plane crashed about a mile on the other side of the border. The incident came just a few weeks after the hostile neighbors came to the brink of another war over disputed Kashmir. US officials quickly expressed concern over escalating tensions in the region.

A Palestinian motorist on a suicide mission twice plowed into a crowd of Israeli soldiers at a hitchhiking post in central Israel. At least 12 people were injured before the driver was shot dead. Unlike the previous hard-line government, new Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak did not point an accusing finger at the Palestinian Authority. Instead, he said the attack reinforced the need for Israeli-Palestinian cooperation on security.

Islamist militants declared Russia's Dagestan province an independent state on a day when Russian forces seemed to be gaining ground. The rebels, who seized several villages, were flushed out from two regions and surrounded in two other villages. The rebels, analysts say, have the backing of powerful Chechen warlords who fought Russia to a humiliating defeat in their own 1994-96 uprising.

Israeli Foreign Minister David Levy said his country was ready to resume peace talks with Syria, leaving it to Damascus to pick the time and the level of the talks. Levy said Jordan's King Abdullah conveyed to him Syrian President Hafez al-Assad's desire to make peace.

Peacekeepers beefed up security measures after two British bases were targeted by snipers in Pristina, capital of Kosovo. Russian troops in Kosovska Kamenica also came under small arms fire. No injuries were reported. Tensions between ethnic Albanian militants, seeking retribution for atrocities by Serb forces, and the NATO-led peacekeepers are reportedly increasing almost daily.

Street battles raged in the Indonesian town of Ambon between Christians and Muslims, claiming 18 lives and injuring 120 people. Religious tension has been high since January. Indonesia's population is more than 90 percent Muslim, but Ambon and surrounding islands have Christian majorities.

Child nutrition in North Korea has improved from two years ago, a senior UN official reported. Meanwhile, tensions continued to escalate in the region as North Korea threatened Japan with "merciless retaliation" unless it atones for its colonial repressoion. During Japan's 1910-1945 rule, Koreans were barred from using their Korean names and language - and millions of men were conscripted into the Japanese Army.

The Gulf emirate of Dubai recorded its hottest weather on record - 117.5 degrees F., along with high humidity. A Dubai meteorologist predicted even hotter weather next week.

(c) Copyright 1999. The Christian Science Publishing Society

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