News In Brief

By , Noel Paul, and Joshua S. Burek

For a second straight day, US and British warplanes attacked targets in Iraq - the first bombings there in six weeks. The resumption in airstrikes coincides with an escalation of tension in the Gulf, following several Iraqi statements that criticized Saudi Arabia and Kuwait for housing Western forces that patrol a "no-fly" zone over portions of Iraq. Friday's attack, Iraqi officials said, was against a main food ration distribution center. Two people were killed and 19 injured, the officials said. Saturday's bombing, the Iraqi News Agency claimed, hit a train station and injured an unspecified number of people. The US maintains that it hit military sites in both cases and that its actions Saturday were in response to artillery fire on patrol planes.

Ahead of ceremonies tomorrow for India's Independence Day, security was stepped up as violence escalated in the disputed Kashmir region. At least five soldiers were killed and about 45 people injured in a string of land mine explosions and gun battles. The Pakistan-based Hizbul Mujahideen group claimed responsibility for blasts in the village of Kud and vowed to increase attacks against Indian troops in the state.

A month away from the deadline Israelis and Palestinians have set to reach a final peace agreement, Yasser Arafat came under increasing pressure to postpone plans to declare a Palestinian state after Sept. 13, officials and analysts said. They added that the leader, in the midst of an international tour to present the Palestinians' side of things, failed to win the overt backing he has sought for an Arab summit on the status of Jerusalem. Nevertheless, a senior Palestinian official said that negotiations with Israelis could resume at the end of August.

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Three abducted Red Cross workers in Georgia were in good condition, officials said, following their release from more than a week's captivity. Authorities have said nothing about the identity of the abductors or their motives, but one of the Georgian negotiators told a Russian television station that the captors had demanded they wouldn't be arrested or tried for the incident. The three workers - Sophie Prokofiev from France, Natasha Zulino from Italy and local driver - had been working in the Pankisi Gorge, where hundreds of Chechen refugees are staying.

Oct. 28 will be the date for Kosovo's first-ever internationally supervised elections, UN officials announced Saturday. Although they're keen to present the poll as a major step toward democracy for the region, most Serbs have refused to register to vote. On the other hand, some 90 percent of the eligible ethnic Albanian population - about 1 million people - has enrolled. Nineteen political parties have been certified to take part in the elections, which will choose members for 30 municipal assemblies.

Unlike last year, a parade by Protestants in Londonderry, Northern Ireland, to mark a 1689 victory over Catholics passed off largely without incident. But Saturday's calm could have been a different story, security sources said, were it not that police destroyed a 500-pound bomb in a van Friday, which was blamed on dissident republicans. Also, a separate bomb alert temporarily closed a rail line, although no explosives were found.

(c) Copyright 2000. The Christian Science Publishing Society

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