News In Brief

Seven more suicide bombers are ready to strike inside Israel, the militant Islamic group Hamas said, after another attack killed two teenagers at a school bus stop. The blast, the third in two days, also killed an Arab carrying the explosives on his body and injured four others. Two other bombs were found elsewhere in Israel before they could go off. An Army radio broadcast quoted Prime Minister Ariel Sharon as saying, "Israel's deterrent capacity will return to the fullest." The latest attack came as the US vetoed a UN resolution that would have authorized sending an international observer force to the West Bank and Gaza Strip.

Authorization to vaccinate up to 100,000 cattle against foot-and-mouth disease was being sought from the European Union by British health officials as the number of affected sites across the nation rose to 694. Meanwhile, Prime Minister Tony Blair used a speech to a chambers of commerce meeting to plead with foreign tourists not to shun Britain this year.

A sweeping overhaul of his Cabinet, most notably the Defense Ministry, was announced by Russian President Vladimir Putin. But the changes did not include Prime Minister Mikhail Kasyanov, whose hold on the job was believed to be in doubt. Putin put a civilian in charge of defense for the first time, which, analysts said, strengthens his control over the military at a time of growing distrust of the US. Since the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, the military has been nagged by funding shortages and low morale.

By a ratio of 117 to 100, births of girls have fallen behind those of boys, China's national statistics bureau reported. The figures, released with other data from last year's census, are due to selective abortion of female fetuses and underreporting of girls, the agency said. But critics argued that the authorities were ignoring widespread abandonment and other forms of female infanticide. The agency put the overall population at 1.26 billion at the end of 2000.

The first UN peacekeepers in Congo are to begin deploying today, their mission chief said. A force of 100 Uruguyans will be sent to Goma, 900 miles east of the capital, Kinshasa, to monitor the disengagement of belligerents in the campaign to topple the national government. Congo's Army, its allies from Angola, Namibia, and Zimbabwe on one side, and two rebel movements and their allies from Rwanda and Uganda on the other were due to complete a nine-mile pullback from the front lines by midnight Wednesday.

(c) Copyright 2001. The Christian Science Monitor

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