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News In Brief

By Robert KilbornJudy Nichols, and Stephanie Cook / March 17, 2000



A massive infusion of government funds kept the key stock index in Taiwan from plunging after the latest threats by mainland Chinese leaders. With crucial presidential elections tomorrow that could end a half century of Nationalist Party rule, the threats by Beijing had sent the TAIEX index into a 4.5 percent plunge before the government intervened. It rebounded to close up 0.49 percent.

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In a dramatic change of strategy, a local NATO commander said Serb guards will be permitted to monitor a strategic bridge to an ethnic Albanian section of Kosovo's most troubled city. But he said the guards must stay 30 yards from the bridge to allow Albanians access to their homes on the Serb side of the Ibar River in Kosovska Mitrovica. The move came one day after at least 15 people were hurt as NATO troops cleared the guards from the bridge.

Sniper fire and other tactics allowed Islamic guerrillas to reoccupy a town in southern Chechnya that Russian forces claimed they'd conquered. The fighting in Komsomolskoye was tying down the Russians for a tenth straight day. And, in another worrying development, a news agency quoted field commanders as saying they believed at least 1,500 rebels were still at large behind Russian lines.

If the election in Russia were held today, Acting President Vladimir Putin would defeat his nearest rival by 58 to 21 percent of the vote, a new opinion poll showed. The survey of 1,600 people found Communist Party leader Gennady Zyuganov would be the likely second-place finisher. The vote is scheduled for a week from Sunday.

A coup to overthrow any government that topples President Robert Mugabe's in next month's parliamentary elections was threatened by militant war veterans who've been occupying white-owned farms. Mugabe is widely viewed as vulnerable because of Zimbabwe's economic crisis and his defeat in a nationwide referendum on a proposed new constitution, and he has drawn international condemnation for failing to halt the farm takeovers. The takeovers, now up to 561, are seen by analysts as a veiled move by Mugabe to influence the election via intimidation.

At least seven people were hurt when a terrorist bomb exploded in a busy New Delhi market 72 hours before President Clinton's scheduled arrival in India. His impending visit has brought hostile demonstrations there and in neighboring Bangladesh, but there was no immediate indication that the blast was related. In Pakistan, the military government ordered militant Islamic groups not to make "irresponsible" statements but was resisting US pressure to crack down on them. Senior officials said the militants pose no danger to Clinton, who's to make a stop there next week.

Pressure from his own political party forced the resignation of Nepal's prime minister less than a year after he assumed office. An emotional Krishna Prasad Bhattarai quit before a special vote of Congress Party members of Parliament appeared certain to oust him. He was blamed for a deterioration in law and order and inability to quell a leftist rebel insurgency.

(c) Copyright 2000. The Christian Science Publishing Society