News In Brief

The status of "revolutionary martyr" was conferred on the Chinese jet pilot who apparently was killed in the April 1 midair collision with a US Navy surveillance plane. The ceremony followed the abandoning of the search at sea for pilot Wang Wei. There also was no letup in official statements about the incident, which led to an 11-day diplomatic standoff. The Liberation Army Daily warned that similar incidents could occur again unless the US ceased the surveillance flights, which it said "cause trouble in front of China's home."

Easter weekend brought more violence to the Middle East, including the first Israeli bombing attack in south Lebanon since Prime Minister Ariel Sharon took office March 7. The bombing was in retaliation for the killing of an Israeli soldier Saturday at a border post in the disputed Shebaa Farms region by the Hizbullah movement. Two pipe-bomb blasts blamed on Palestinians went off in the West Bank, injuring one person, and two Palestinians - one of them a child - were hurt in a refugee camp in the Gaza Strip.

Defiant staffers from Russia's NTV station were attempting to set up a cable news operation across the street after their facilities were seized in the early hours of Saturday by a new slate of managers. The pre-dawn takeover by Gazprom, a state-owned utility that is NTV's largest stockholder, triggered mass resignations by journalists who saw it as a move to silence what had been the nation's only independent news operation. For the time being, the rebels operate from a tiny studio of an NTV-affiliated cable station that few Russians can receive. But they planned to move to TV-6, a privately owned station that broadcasts to 69 cities.

For the second time in four days, tens of thousands of low-income Turks protested in the streets against the government's handling of a national economic crisis that has led to rising prices and waves of job cuts. An estimated crowd of 30,000 in Istanbul Saturday demanded protection for public-sector workers, "not corrupt banks." But Economy Minister Kemal Dervis, announcing a new austerity plan, conceded "growth is a long-term process." Waves of protests this large haven't been seen in Turkey since the 1970s.

Suspicion fell on a dissident faction of the Irish Republican Army for a bomb attack on a London post office that appeared timed to mark the anniversary of the 1916 Easter uprising in Dublin. No one was reported hurt in the late-night blast, but police called it "totally reckless" and warned London residents to be on their guard. They blamed the so-called Real IRA, a paramilitary group that carried out the 1998 bombing of Omagh, Northern Ireland, killing 29 people and injuring 200 others. The group split with the rest of the IRA after the latter agreed a year earlier to the Good Friday accords that led to Northern Ireland's power-sharing administration.

In an abrupt move, the UN called off deployment of its first armed contingent of peacekeeping troops in eastern Congo after a rebel group prevented it from landing at the region's airport. The Rwanda-backed Rally for Congolese Democracy demanded that the peacekeepers first publicly denounce and investigate alleged atrocities by the government Army. The rebels said they would consider any move to deploy the peacekeepers as "a declaration of war." The planeload of 120 Moroccans was to be the first of 3,000 UN troops arriving in Congo over the coming months.

(c) Copyright 2001. The Christian Science Monitor

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