News In Brief

The main challenger to Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic drew an estimated 150,000 people to a campaign rally in Belgrade - more than 10 times the number who showed up for an appearance by the hard-line leader a short distance away. Vojislav Kostunica also took encouragement from the Army's chief of staff, who said the military would recognize his victory if he won, although he also warned of interference in Sunday's election by "special units of foreign armed forces."

Breaking a silence that had led to worries of a coup, Peru's armed forces announced support for President Alberto Fujimori and urged the nation to remain calm. The military chiefs said they backed his surprise call for new elections and decision to disband the feared secret service. Diplomats had believed that spy director Vladi- miro Montesinos, who is at the center of a bribery scandal that led to Fujimori's move, enjoyed the loyalty of the military.

Signs of a new sectarian split emerged in Lebanon, whose largest Christian faith publicly called on neighboring Syria to withdraw 30,000 of its troops from Lebanese soil. In its strongest statement yet on the matter, the Maronite Catholic Church also accused Syrian nationals of causing many of Lebanon's economic woes. Syria has had troops in Lebanon since 1976 ostensibly as peacekeepers between Christians and Muslims, who fought a 15-year civil war. But sentiment for a pullout has grown since Israel's withdrawal in late May. Prime Minister Salim Hoss quickly appealed to Christian and Muslim leaders to help defuse tensions "resulting from the exchange of attitudes" on the issue.

The train station was evacuated and all outbound rail travel from Burma's capital, Rangoon, was canceled after more than 100 police blocked democracy activist Aung San Suu Kyi from leaving to meet with supporters. As the Monitor went to press, the 1991 Nobel Peace Prize winner remained at the station with authorities, but her travel party had been driven to an undisclosed location. Suu Kyi, who was intercepted Aug. 24 while attempting a similar mission by car, was trying to go to Mandalay in northern Burma for a conference with National League for Democracy followers.

There were no immediate claims of responsibility for a late-night missile attack on the headquarters of Britain's secret service in London. But authorities said "dissident Irish groups" are known to have had access to the weaponry used. The attack injured no one and caused only minor damage to the building, where it's believed Irish terrorists are monitored. The incident was the third involving explosives in London this summer.

An appeals court reduced the jail terms of 10 Iranian Jews convicted of spying for Israel. It upheld their convictions on one count of espionage but dropped additional charges, shortening their sentences from 13 years to nine. Western governments and Jewish groups had roundly criticized the government for not providing a fair trial.

(c) Copyright 2000. The Christian Science Publishing Society

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