News In Brief

The fire that gutted the world's second-tallest building was contained by emergency crews in Moscow, but even President Vladimir Putin lamented its effect on Russian pride. Three people were believed dead in the 1,772-foot-high Ostankino TV tower, which lost dozens of its internal support cables in the intense heat and was reported swaying - although within tolerable limits. The fire was the third major blow to national prestige in less than a month, following a deadly explosion in a Moscow public underground walkway and the sinking of the nuclear-powered submarine Kursk in the Barents Sea.

Ethnic Hutu rebels attacked a neighborhood in Burundi's capital, killing six people and marring the signing of a peace accord with the nation's Tutsi minority that was to be witnessed by President Clinton and 20 regional chiefs of state. Hard-line Tutsis said they wouldn't accept the accord because it could lead to a repetition of the 1994 genocide in neighboring Rwanda. More than 200,000 Burundians have died in seven years of civil war.

In a new attempt at mollifying the communist leaders of China, Taiwan's president refused to close the door on eventual reunification. Just back from a tour of Taiwan's few diplomatic allies, Chen Shui-bian said his government does not have "a predetermined stance" on whether to reunify or declare independence. But, he said, "we cannot have a predetermined conclusion" either. Leaders of the Beijing government, who cherish the so-called "one China" principle, have threatened a military invasion of Taiwan if the latter declares independence or drags its feet on reuniting.

Another hostage, the sixth in two days, was freed by Muslim rebels in the southern Philippines. Carel Strydom of South Africa joined his wife, Monique, and four Europeans for a flight to Libya, where they planned to thank leader Muammar Qaddafi for paying $1 million each to ransom them from four months of captivity. The Abu Sayyaf rebels continue to hold six Westerners and 12 Filipinos captive in remote jungle camps.

The new president of Somalia, its first in nine years, confronted the need to appoint a prime minister and Cabinet and set a timetable for returning home to govern. Abdulqasim Salad Hassan was elected Friday in a special session of parliament meeting in neighboring Djibouti and took the oath of office in nationally televised ceremonies Sunday. Somalia has been wracked by clan violence since President Siad Barre's government collapsed in 1991.

(c) Copyright 2000. The Christian Science Publishing Society

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