News In Brief

By , Judy Nichols and Noel Paul

At least three civilian workers were killed and dozens of other people were hurt in West Timor when thousands of pro-Indonesian militiamen attacked a UN refugee center. The UN offices also were set on fire, forcing the evacuation of remaining staffers to East Timor. The attack came in retaliation for the murder of a militia leader accused of atrocities in East Timor last year and took place while Indonesian President Abdurrahman Wahid was in New York for the UN's Millennium Summit. Wahid has been under international pressure to rein in the militias operating in West Timor.

The 150 world leaders gathered for the Millennium Summit paused for a minute of silence in tribute to the dead UN workers. Secretary-General Kofi Annan called the attack a "somber reminder" of the dangers faced by UN personnel. In his keynote address, President Clinton called for giving peacekeepers "the tools to finish the job" in situations "where brave people seek reconciliation but enemies seek to undermine it."

The second major fire in an outdoor market in Kenya's capital in 10 days caused a riot by thousands of angry vendors whose inventory was reduced to ashes. Police responded with tear gas and clubs to disperse them. The cause of the fire in Nairobi's Gikomba section was not reported. Firemen made no effort to extinguish it, with water rationing in effect because of the worst drought in 30 years.

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All six remaining European hostages held by a Muslim rebel movement in the southern Philippines will be freed tomorrow, the group said. There was no word on whether the Abu Sayyaf also would release 12 Filipinos they also hold - or an American taken last week by a related faction. The rebels seized 21 people April 23 in a raid on a resort in neighboring Malaysia. Six were freed last week after the government of Libya intervened, reportedly for a ransom of $1 million each.

Only nine months after being formed, the civilian government of Guinea-Bissau was in deep political crisis. Reports said President Kumba Yala fired all six Cabinet members from his coalition partner, the Resistance Party, without saying why. The move left his own Social Renewal Party attempting to rule despite holding only 37 of the 102 seats in parliament.

New taxes on computers and computer-related devices are being drafted by the German government to ensure that composers, authors, and artists are properly compensated for their creative work when it's downloaded from the Internet, reports said. The plan calls for manufacturers of such devices to send the taxes to an escrow account that would be paid out to music and film distributors.

(c) Copyright 2000. The Christian Science Publishing Society

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