News In Brief

The nationalist gunmen who killed Armenian Prime Minister Vazgen Sarkisian and seven other senior government officials surrendered to authorities after an all-night armed standoff. It ended after they were granted time to broadcast a recorded statement and were promised a fair trial by President Robert Kocharian. Forty hostages, mostly legislators or government bureaucrats, were released unharmed. A spokesman for the assailants said the attack was staged "to restore the rights" of the Armenian people and save them "from perishing."

An attack by ethnic Albanians against Serbs attempting to leave Kosovo was "unacceptable" and its perpetrators will be tracked down and "brought to justice," UN and NATO spokesmen said. The attack Wednesday against a NATO-escorted convoy of buses and cars was one of the most serious incidents of violence in the province since peacekeepers arrived in June. Eighteen Serbs were reported hurt and 19 vehicles were set on fire. Witnesses said the attack was provoked by persons in the convoy who flashed the three-fingered Serb nationalism salute, angering crowds of watching Albanians.

Claiming "the Islamic world has been indifferent to our appeals," Chechnya's President Aslan Maskhadov asked Pope John Paul II to intervene against the 1-1/2-month-old invasion of the breakaway region by Rus-sian troops. He said 3,265 Chechens have died and more than 5,000 others wounded since the assault began.

Despite a government declaration that China's banned Falun Gong movement is a cult - and a vow to show no mercy in crushing it - members said they intended to press ahead with their campaign of peaceful resistance. At least 20 more adherents were arrested yesterday in Beijing's Tiananmen Square in a fourth straight day of silent vigils as the National People's Congress, or parliament, met nearby to consider tougher suppression measures.

Nostalgia for its years under communism appears to be the main problem for Ukraine's President Leonid Kuchma as he seeks a second five-year term in elections Sunday. Kuchma, who is opposed by a dozen challengers, claims credit for the country's first post-Soviet Constitution. But many Ukranians eke out an existence on about $40 a month, and corruption remains mostly unchecked. International observers say the campaign has been undemocratic, and attempts by opponents to forge a unified campaign against Kuchma failed.

A runoff in the election for president appeared the likely outcome in Uruguay after voters finish balloting Sunday, late opinion polls suggested. In a race dominated by economic concerns, leftist candidate Tabare Vazquez was generating more support than his main rival, Jorge Battle of the ruling Colorado Party - but not by enough to indicate a first-round win. Vazquez, the former mayor of Montivideo, the capital, heads a Popular Front coalition of communists and socialists. Battle unsuccessfully has sought the presidency four times before. Uruguay has a 10.5 percent unemployment rate and is overshadowed by its much larger neighbors, Brazil and Argentina.

(c) Copyright 1999. The Christian Science Publishing Society

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