News In Brief

For the first time, Israeli negotiators presented their Palestinian counterparts with detailed maps that show how they envision future borders between the two entities. Dismayed by what they saw, Palestinians walked out of the peace talks in Eilat, Israel, but US mediator Dennis Ross brought the two sides back together soon afterward. A Palestinian official said the Israelis were proposing three noncontiguous land parcels as well as large blocks of Jewish settlements in the West Bank and Gaza Strip. Israelis and Palestinians previously committed to reach a basic framework agreement this month, with a full treaty due by Sept. 13.

The Philippine military doubled its forces on Jolo island, where Muslim rebels have separated 21 mainly foreign hostages into five groups in a tactic to break through a police cordon. Intermittent skirmishes were reported. The rebels, known as Abu Sayyaf, are one of two groups seeking an independent Islamic nation in the impoverished southern Philippines. Meanwhile, more details were disclosed about an incident involving the rebels in a nearby location Wednesday. The country's defense secretary said that Abu Sayyaf captors allegedly tortured and executed a Roman Catholic priest during a rescue attempt by Filipino troops. Three other hostages died in the incident.

A new computer virus spread quickly around the world, affecting government and business computers in Asia and Europe, as well as the US. The "Love bug" virus can infiltrate a computer user's address book and send copies of itself to that person's contacts. It also appeared to be invading Internet chat systems.

The Sri Lankan government, facing possibly its greatest crisis yet in a 17-year fight against Tamil Tiger rebels, put the nation on war status and invoked the Public Security Act. The measure gives sweeping powers to military and police, bans the publication of newspapers that could harm national security, and prohibits demonstrations and strikes deemed contrary to the war effort. Meanwhile, officials for both India and Pakistan indicated they had ruled out supplying military help to Sri Lanka.

In hopes of resolving long-standing problems in Indonesia's Aceh province, the Jakarta government and pro-independence rebels announced they'll sign a three-month cease-fire agreement next Friday in Geneva. They'll also open talks, a Cabinet minister said. The Free Aceh Movement has been fighting for 25 years to end Indonesian rule in the oil-rich province on the northern tip of Sumatra Island. The war has claimed at least 5,000 lives in the past decade.

Revising the estimated death toll, the UN said four peacekeepers were presumed to have been killed in Sierra Leone during clashes with Revolutionary United Front rebels this week. In addition, an estimated 50 UN officials and civilians have been taken hostage. RUF leader Foday Sankoh promised to free any hostages held by his organization, but as the Monitor went to press, it was unclear when or if that would come to pass.

(c) Copyright 2000. The Christian Science Publishing Society

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