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News In Brief

By Robert Kilborn and Lance Carden / December 3, 1999



Self-rule powers were transferred to the joint Protestant-Catholic administration of Northern Ireland by the British government, and all claims to the province were formally renounced by its southern neighbor. In Dublin, the Republic of Ireland Cabinet approved new constitutional language abandoning the territorial claim, a gesture aimed at calming the fears of Protestants that they'd be forced into a united Ireland. A third development, discussions on surrender of weapons by the Irish Republican Army, were expected to open with Northern Ireland's disarmament commission.

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The OK to use force in suppressing the independence movement in Aceh province was given to Indonesia's military by new President Abdurrahman Wahid, official news reports said. And tomorrow, the 23rd anniversary of the movement, anyone caught lowering the Indonesian flag will be shot on sight, the commander of government troops there said. But Col. Syarifuddin Tippe also predicted that the anniversary would pass peacefully.

The political wing of the Basque separatist movement in Spain joined silent vigils against the possibility of renewed violence as soon as tomorrow. But Herri Batasuna leaders stood apart from other demonstrators and said they weren't protesting against the ETA guerrillas who announced an end to their unilateral truce, effective today. Instead, they said, they were sending a message to the Spanish government that lasting peace could come only when Basques were granted self-determination. Since halting the 14-month cease-fire, ETA has issued no other communiques.

Spokesmen for the Palestinian Authority refused to comment on a legislator's claim that at least one of the three men who shot him was a security policeman. Moawya al-Masri was wounded in one leg. He's one of nine members of the Palestine Legislative Council who signed a petition accusing authority President Yasser Arafat and his Cabinet of corruption. The council voted to censure the dissidents and "monitor" their behavior - a possible hint that their immunity from arrest would be lifted. But al-Masri said he would not retract his signature.

Rebel forces were shelling an estimated 2,000 trapped Zimbabwean troops at an airfield in northwestern Congo in what foreign diplomats said indicated a "worrisome major offensive" in the country's renewed civil war. Soldiers loyal to President Laurent Kabila were reported in a heavy assault on the rebels' rear to try to free the Zimbabweans, sent to help defend his regime. Elsewhere, Congo's interior minister said UNITA rebel units from Angola were streaming across the border. It wasn't clear whether they'd join the anti-Kabila effort or use Congolese territory to launch attacks back into Angola.

Investigators were looking into why a transcontinental express favored by tourists was stopped on the tracks when a packed commuter train rammed it 34 miles west of Sydney, Australia. The express train was en route from Perth, 2,700 miles away, and was hidden by a blind curve when the crash occurred. At least 12 people died; dozens of others were injured.

(c) Copyright 1999. The Christian Science Publishing Society