News In Brief

After a demand on a new president for Fiji was met, nationalist rebels freed deposed Prime Minister Mahendra Chaudhry and 17 other hostages who had been held since May 19. Ratu Josefa Iloilo, the hand picked presidential nominee of rebel leader George Speight, was elected by the country's Great Council of Chiefs. But unrest continued in the country, with protesters seizing two more tourist resorts. That brought the total number held to four, although the military said no hostages were involved. Other nations refused to remove a threat of sanctions until democracy is restored in the country.

Beijing voiced indignation over Israel's decision to scrap a $250 million sale of an advanced airborne radar system to China's military. "No other country has the right to interfere," a spokesman for the Chinese Foreign Ministry said, referring to heavy US pressure on Israel. But some analysts said China's reaction was restrained in comparison with other incidents.

Afghanistan's Taliban rulers were expected to rescind a recent edict banning women from working for international relief agencies, a senior UN official said after a day of negotiations in the country. The order resulted in the expulsion of an American aid worker, who had been detained Sunday along with seven female Afghan staff from her aid agency. A Taliban spokesman said the edict was issued out of concerns that aid groups might employ women who are spies. Mary MacMakin, the American relief worker, denied Taliban charges of spying.

Police in Northern Ireland reported a virtually calm night, after 10 of rioting linked to the Protestant Orange Order's commemoration of a centuries-old battle victory. The Orangemen had largely dispersed after the climax of their observances Wednesday. In an attempt to get the province's peace process back on track, British Prime Minister Tony Blair and his Irish counterpart, Bertie Ahern, were to talk by telephone today about the future of the Royal Ulster Constabulary, Northern Ireland's police force.

At least 50 people in a Bombay slum were killed by a mudslide during monsoon rains, emergency services said. At least another 50 people were believed buried. In the past week, rains have killed more than 80 people in India's western state of Maharashtra, of which Bombay is the capital. With more heavy precipitation expected, a state official called on the Navy to help evacuate people living along lakes that are in danger of overflowing.

Scores of forest fires caused smoke to cover parts of Indonesia's Sumatra island, prompting concerns of a repeat of 1997 when haze enveloped parts of Southeast Asia, officials and news reports said. Air quality was recorded at "unhealthy" levels in at least one city, an official said, and in northern parts of neighboring Malaysia.

(c) Copyright 2000. The Christian Science Publishing Society

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