News In Brief

By , Lance Carden, and Ross Atkin

A week of silent protests in Beijing's Tiananmen Square by followers of the banned Falun Gong movement appeared to be over. Masses of people circulated there yesterday, under the watchful eyes of uniformed and plainclothes security forces, but no incidents were reported of the type Friday, when Falun Gong members were beaten and dragged away by the hair. On Saturday, the National People's Congress revised the criminal code to make leaders of the sect liable for prosecution for such crimes as endangering national security and the government announced that four of them had been charged under it.

The No. 2 city in Chechnya was surrounded by Russian troops, but there still were no immediate plans to capture the capital, Grozny, senior commanders said. Emergency Ministry officials said five checkpoints that would allow refugees to leave the breakaway region were not yet open because they were "not properly equipped."

Low in the water because of all the men and materiel aboard, a troop transport ship carried the last Indonesian soldiers out of East Timor. The predawn departure ended 24 years of military occupation and symbolized what analysts were calling the ignominious failure of a militarily powerful Islamic nation to subdue a small, separatist, and mostly Roman Catholic province on its eastern fringe.

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The second powerful cyclone to batter the eastern coastal state of Orissa in less than a month may have set it back 20 years, Indian authorities said. Rain was still falling yesterday after 155 m.p.h. winds left an estimated 1.5 million people homeless, knocked out all electricity, closed every highway, and caused cancellation of all airline and rail service. There were no reliable early reports of deaths, injuries, or property damage.

Army units regained control of a Kuwait City suburb after two days of rioting described as the worst in the oil-rich state's history. It began with a quarrel between a shopkeeper and a Egyptian laborer over tableware the latter had accidentally broken. Thousands of other Egyptians then joined in, protesting their low pay and treatment at the hands of better-off Kuwaitis. Authorities were withholding details on the number of casualties. But reports said "several" Kuwaitis were hurt and at least six police vehicles and three school buses were destroyed.

A new snag in implementing the peace accord in Sierra Leone emerged as rival groups of rebels fought over the surrender of weapons their leaders had agreed to. Reports said tens of thousands of civilians fled the shooting and that casualties could run into the hundreds. One of the groups is loyal to Revolutionary United Front leader Foday Sankoh; the other to ex-Army chief Johnny Paul Koroma. Each was blaming the other for starting the battles.

Roman Catholic and Lutheran negotiators signed an accord formally ending the 482-year-old dispute that led to the Reformation. At an ecumenical service in Augsburg, Germany, they acknowledged jointly that humanity achieves salvation through "faith in Christ's saving work and not because of any merit on our part."

(c) Copyright 1999. The Christian Science Publishing Society

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