News In Brief

A "day and night" manhunt in rural Peru for notorious former secret service chief Vladimiro Montesinos was being led personally by President Alberto Fujimori. But critics questioned whether it was more than a publicity stunt. Fujimori said he wanted to find Montesinos for the latter's own safety because he had "fought against" terrorists and narcotics traffickers. Montesinos hasn't been seen in public since he returned from exile in Panama earlier this week. His alleged attempt to bribe an opposition lawmaker has triggered the worst political crisis of Fujimori's career.

After forcing junta leader Robert Guei to flee Ivory Coast, supporters of President-elect Laurent Gbagbo clashed with the backers of another rival who'd been ruled ineligible for the election earlier this week. At least 14 people died in Abidjan, the capital, as youths loyal to ex-Prime Minister Alassane Ouattara fought with police while demanding a new vote. Gbagbo draws most of his support from Christians and animists; Ouattara's backers are primarily Islamic. South African President Thabo Mbeki, among others, called for new elections to stop the violence.

In a dramatic new turn, embattled Philippines President Joseph Estrada vowed to resign his office instantly if critics can prove he accepted "a single centavo" in illegal payments from gambling syndicates. He also is accused of taking $2.8 million in tobacco tax revenues. But he told supporters, "our foes ... will never succeed." As Estrada spoke, however, the nation's top business group announced that 96 percent of its members, responding to a survey, thought he should quit, take a leave of absence, or be impeached.

US officials in Yemen investigating the bombing of the naval destroyer Cole tightened security after receiving a telephoned bomb threat. Guards armed with machine guns were stationed around the hotel housing the security personnel, and civilian traffic was restricted. FBI technicians had nearly finished gathering evidence yesterday and were due to return to the US.

New information related to the Cole incident, meanwhile, added to evidence linking the Oct. 12 blast to suspected terrorism-financier Osama bin Laden, The Washington Post reported. It said Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh announced the arrest of a number of Arab veterans of Afghanistan's war against the Soviet Union, as well as members of Egypt's Islamic Jihad. Bin Laden's militant organization has close ties to the latter, and the Saudi refugee, who now lives in Afghanistan, also took part in the resistance movement there.

A handwritten note found on the Russian submarine Kursk by divers indicated at least 23 crew members remained alive after explosions sank the vessel in the Barents Sea Aug. 12. Adm. Vladimir Kuroyedov, the Navy chief, said the note was found in the pocket of a seaman.

(c) Copyright 2000. The Christian Science Publishing Society

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