News In Brief

Tensions rose in the Caucasus region as Russia launched a major offensive to flush out Muslim militants in Dagestan. Meanwhile, the breakaway republic of Chechnya declared a state of emergency after Russia's acting Prime Minister Vladimir Putin threatened to strike separatist targets in Chechnya. The rebels, who crossed over from Chechnya, are seeking to establish an independent Islamic state in Dagestan and ultimately unite with Chechnya.

India and Pakistan celebrated their 52nd Independence Day, and the moods were strikingly similar: Both boasted their nuclear capabilities. And both said they would not back down from their respective positions on the dispute over Kashmir. Above, a commander of the Pakistani border guards (r.) shares candy with his Indian counterpart at a border crossing near Lahore. In Kashmir, militants attacked an Indian police outpost, killing five and injuring 15 others.

Over 10,000 Protestants and Catholics united in a prayer vigil on the anniversary of the Omagh bombing in which 29 people were killed a year ago in Northern Ireland. But the outdoor service was overshadowed by the worst violence in a year in Northern Ireland as Catholic youth torched trucks, protesting hard-line Protestant parades.

"No More!" said thousands of placards in Bogota, Colombia, during the funeral of Jaime Garzon, who was killed by an unknown assailant. Garzon was his country's most beloved comedian, a peace activist, and a fearless satirist. Violence and atrocities have been mounting in the country, largely at the hands of right-wing death squads and leftist guerrillas.

Four Europeans, including two Spanish priests, were kidnapped by drug traffickers in eastern Iran, a Spanish diplomat said. Iran called it an "ugly and inhumane" act. The abductions come at a time when Tehran is actively promoting its tourism industry. Separately, a Turkish news agency reported that Turkish border officials seized 1,130 pounds of heroin from a truck coming from Iran.

As more reports trickled in of attacks on Serbs and peacekeepers in Kosovo, a UN official warned of a possible confrontation with the Kosovo Liberation Army. More Serbs fled Kosovo over the weekend, and the chief UN administrator for the province said the outflow goes against the purpose of the UN's presence in Kosovo, where peacekeepers want to maintain a multiethnic environment.

Allies turned guns against each other, giving a new twist to an already complex Congo conflict. Rwanda and Uganda, which sent troops into Congo last year in support of rebels fighting to oust Congolese President Laurent Kabila, exchanged fire for the first time in the Congolese city of Kisangani. Although they signed a peace agreement with Kabila last month, they are backing different factions in a leadership dispute embroiling the main rebel movement.

South Korean police blocked 8,000 leftist students from marching to the border with North Korea to promote unification. It was one of the largest such rallies in recent years, and government officials expressed concern that the leftists movement may be growing.

(c) Copyright 1999. The Christian Science Publishing Society

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