News In Brief

Emergency medical procedures were planned or under consideration for Japanese uranium-processing workers exposed to high doses of radiation in the country's worst nuclear accident. Meanwhile, most residents of the area nearest the scene returned home after an evacuation order was lifted. And a government panel opened its probe into reports that the workers secretly were using illegal procedures.

The opening of a "safe passage" route for Palestinians between the West Bank and Gaza Strip was postponed indefinitely after negotiators failed to resolve a security dispute. The road across Israel, which was agreed to in last month's peace accord, was intended to allow Palestinians to travel between self-rule areas for visits with family and friends. Israeli officials insisted they'd be able to arrest persons suspected of hostilities who tried to use the route. But hundreds of demonstrators protested the scheduled opening, claiming they feared for their safety.

Despite massive security precautions, at least 15 more people were killed as India held its fifth and final phase of elections for a new Parliament. The casualties brought to almost 60 the number of deaths since balloting began Sept. 3 for the third national election in three years. The vote count was expected to be clear by Thursday. Exit polls so far indicate his 22-party coalition is likely to win enough seats to retain power.

Dissident groups warned of further incidents if the military junta of Burma (Myanmar) doesn't ease its autocratic rule. Guards on both sides of the Thai border were on high alert after five democracy activists were flown there by helicopter, following a 26-hour armed takeover of the Burmese Embassy in Bangkok. The activists were believed to be seeking sanctuary with rebels who hide in the jungle near the border. They had demanded the release of all political prisoners, the convening of an elected parliament, and meaningful dialogue between the junta and opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi. Ultimately, however, they freed 38 hostages unharmed.

Voters gave ultra-right nationalists a large enough share of the seats in Austria's parliament to change the national political landscape. Preliminary results from yesterday's balloting indicated the Freedom Party would finish second behind Chancellor Victor Klima's Social Democrats, who've ruled in a coalition with the conservative People's Party for 14 years. Freedom Party leader Jrg Haider is famous for his praise of Nazi policies in World War II Germany, and Klima has ruled out forming a coalition with him.

All sides were appealing for calm in the volatile Central African Republic after President Ange-Felix Patasse was declared the winner in his bid for reelection. His government said he took 51.6 percent of the votes after balloting that was twice postponed because of "insufficient preparations." But opposition parties rejected the outcome as tainted by irregularities and demanded a new vote.

(c) Copyright 1999. The Christian Science Publishing Society

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