News In Brief

Computer experts were reportedly most concerned about the effect Y2K problems might pose in Russia, China, and developing nations. The World Bank reportedly regards Russia and the former Soviet Union as a critical region in terms of potential year-2000 computer problems, because those countries are believed to be particularly reliant on large numbers of outdated computers in essential sectors.

Indian negotiators were reportedly haggling with hijackers of an Indian Airlines plane over the release of Kashmiri militants, as 160 hostages endured their seventh day of captivity in Kandahar, Afghanistan. The hijackers allowed one of the hostages to leave the aircraft temporarily for medical treatment. Afghanistan soldiers surrounded the parked jet with dozens of soldiers and two trucks - one carrying a rocket launcher and another carrying a US-made antiaircraft Stinger missile. Officials said, however, that they were not planning an assault on the aircraft.

Chechen fighters were still holding their own in central Grozny and testing Russian forces in other parts of the breakaway province. A Russian border-guards commander said rebel troops were trying to cut through a key road to neighboring Georgia in the steep southern mountains. In Grozny, the capital, Russian troops were reportedly advancing cautiously because rebels had mined some of the streets.

Japan's imperial household said Princess Masako had a miscarriage. The announcement came after a widely publicized pregnancy had brought widespread hopes of an heir to the throne. Masako and Crown Prince Naruhito are in their sixth year of marriage.

Israel freed seven East Jerusalem residents jailed for anti-Israel activities, the first time since 1994 that Palestinians from the disputed section of the city have been released as part of an Israeli-Palestinian interim accord. Israel had been refusing to include East Jerusalem Palestinians in negotiated prisoner releases, fearing that this might imply recognition of Palestinian claims to the largely Palestinian-populated area.

A Russian court acquitted a retired naval officer charged with treason for writing about unsafe storage of nuclear waste. Alexander Nikitin was charged with revealing state secrets after writing a 1996 report in a Norwegian journal and discussing 52 nuclear submarines abandoned in a shipyard near Russia's border with Norway. The subs allegedly hold spent nuclear fuel that is susceptible to leakage, overheating, and explosion. Environmental groups expressed outrage when prosecutors demanded that Nikitin be sentenced to 12 years in a labor colony.

Ivory Coast's new military ruler won the support of the Democratic Party, which had ruled since independence in 1960. The announcement gave a boost to the rule of General Robert Guei, whose military junta has restored a normal working atmosphere and won broad acceptance from other segments of society.

(c) Copyright 1999. The Christian Science Publishing Society

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