News In Brief

Thousands of Israeli border settlers were fleeing south for safety as their government said it no longer would be bound by rules of engagement with Hizbullah guerrillas. The rules, adopted in 1996, were designed to protect civilian areas from attack as the two sides skirmish in Israel's so-called protection zone in southern Lebanon. In new fighting, Hizbullah killed its sixth Israeli soldier in the region in two weeks and vowed further "bombs, rockets, and ambushes." Earlier, Israeli jets ranged all the way into northern Lebanon to damage three power plants.

Booby-trapped buildings were being cleared by Russian Army engineers in the Chechen capital, Grozny, as the pace of efforts to distribute food and other aid to its beleaguered residents picked up. The city had no electricity, water, or functioning sewage systems. Meanwhile, the Moscow Times reported evidence of widespread looting and the summary execution of Grozny's civilians, which were blamed on Russian troops.

Opponents of ex-Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet won a round in their legal battle to keep Britain from sending him home, where he could avoid trial for crimes against humanity. In London, the High Court said it would consider the merits of an appeal by human rights groups and the government of Belgium against a ruling that Pinochet is too ill to be tried. Belgium is acting as agent for exiled Chileans who fled Pinochet's rule. The appellants want to see the medical evidence on which the British government's ruling was based.

A "fight without compromise" against terrorism was declared by the Yugoslav government after the assassination of Defense Minister Pavle Bulatovic. A close ally of President Slobodan Milosevic, he was shot in a Belgrade restaurant. The attack was the second of its type in the capital in less than a month. Paramilitary chief Zeljko (Arkan) Raznatovic was killed Jan. 15 in a luxury hotel. No suspects in Bulatovic's death were identified, and the motive was unclear. But he was from Montenegro, the junior republic in what remains of Yugoslavia. Tensions have been growing between Milosevic and Montenegro's pro-Western leadership.

"Croatia returns to the European family," proclaimed a headline in a leading Zagreb newspaper after voters elected populist Stipe Mesic to the presidency. He defeated rival Drazen Budisa by 56 percent to 44 percent of the ballot in Monday's runoff to succeed the late authoritarian nationalist, Franjo Tudjman. In his acceptance speech, Mesic told cheering supporters he'd seek membership for Croatia in NATO and the European Union as soon as possible. He is scheduled to assume office Feb. 18.

Requests for political asylum by two Cuban doctors posed a difficult dilemma for Venezuelan President Hugo Chvez. The men cited poor pay as the reason they didn't want to return to the communist-ruled island and said other Cuban health professionals involved in relief efforts following the devastating Vene-zuela landslides last month also planned to seek asylum. But the request was seen as troublesome for Chvez, who often praises Cuban leader Fidel Castro and his revolution. Granting asylum would be a tacit admission that Castro's regime has shortcomings, but returning the doctors to Cuba would likely subject them to reprisals.

(c) Copyright 2000. The Christian Science Publishing Society

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