Chinese police arrested 130 Christians, three of them US missionaries, from a banned church, the Hong Kong-based human rights agency reported. It said the China Fang-cheng Church, an evangelical group with 500,000 members, was one of at least 14 Chinese Christian sects banned by Communist authorities and declared to be "evil cults" - a label they've also applied to the Falun Gong movement. But meanwhile, the head of the official Chinese Catholic Association, who was visiting the US, described religion in China as entering a "golden age," the official China Daily reported.
Financial markets in Indonesia plummeted more than 4.1 percent in response to President Abdurrahman Wahid's new Cabinet selections, which were announced Wednesday. Wahid had promised a reshuffle after heavy criticism of his leadership performance, but politicians and analysts complained that most key positions were handed to political allies and retired generals. Vice President Megawati Sukarnoputri, who didn't attend the Cabinet announcement, denied rumors she would resign because her party had little representation in the new lineup.
UN peacekeepers must be able to confront aggressors with effective force, a commissioned panel concluded. The panel was appointed after highly critical reports on the UN role in the 1994 Rwanda genocide and the 1995 massacre of thousands of Bosnian Muslims in Srebrenica. The panel's report is expected to be a focal point of the Millennium Summit Sept. 6-8, when some 150 world leaders are to meet at UN headquarters in New York.
In a reversal, Congolese President Laurent Kabila authorized deployment of UN military observers in his country, the head of the UN mission there said. The UN Security Council had approved the deployment of some 5,500 personnel but had been unable to do so, in part because of Kabila. His government has been under attack by rebels backed by Rwanda and Uganda. Meanwhile, however, the government said the Lusaka peace accord, aimed at ending the two-year civil war, was to be suspended because of cease-fire violations. But that wouldn't affect the observer deployment, the UN mission head said.
A new survey of Yugoslav voters puts the leading Serbian opposition candidate ahead of President Slobodan Milosevic one month before presidential elections, Beta news agency reported. The poll, conducted by the Institute of Social Sciences in Belgrade, showed 35 percent support for Vojislav Kostunica, 25 percent for Milosevic, and 5 percent each for two other opposition candidates. In a poll released last month, the institute said Kostunica could win only with the backing of a unified opposition.
Investigations were under way to determine how an Airbus jet operated by Bahrain-based Gulf Air crashed off the coast of that country, killing all 143 people aboard. There was no immediate word on the cause of the accident, which occurred as the plane - which had departed from Cairo - was making multiple landing attempts. Both the black box flight recorder and cockpit voice recorder had been recovered, a government official said.
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