News In Brief

Indian police arrested three men accused of plotting to blow up US embassies there and in Bangladesh and who reportedly are linked to Saudi dissident Osama bin Laden. Two of the suspects were carrying high-intensity explosives at the time of the arrest, which followed a tip about a planned attack on the embassies. The third accomplice was to provide a car, which the men planned to use in the bombings. Bin Laden has been indicted in New York for plotting the 1998 bombings of US embassies in Kenya and Tanzania.

Meanwhile, an investigation began in Bangladesh of a bombing at a meeting of the ruling Awami League that killed at least 22 people and injured 100 others Saturday night - the worst act of terrorism in the country's history. No group claimed responsibility for the attack near Dhaka, the capital, but Islamic fundamentalists have made previous, though much smaller, attacks. Violence often erupts ahead of Bangladeshi elections, another of which is scheduled for October.

The Colombian government and the country's largest guerrilla faction swapped dozens of ill prisoners in an exchange they hope will encourage peace talks to end a 37-year conflict. Hours after authorities freed 11 rebels linked to the Revolutionary Armed Forces (FARC), a presidential negotiator flew to the rebel-dominated southern region to take delivery of 29 government soldiers in return. FARC was expected to free 42 of its more than 300 prisoners over the course of the weekend.

Two of the three Filipino hostages freed by Muslim extremist group Abu Sayyaf arrived safely in Manila after reportedly being ransomed for $200,000, officials said. But the pair were unable to confirm whether fellow hostage Guillermo Sobero of Corona, Calif., was killed by rebels as the latter have claimed. They said, however, that Sobero was having difficulty keeping up with the others because of a foot injury. Meanwhile, President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo was preparing to visit the battle-scarred heart of the nation's three-week hostage crisis, and armed forces appeared to be gearing up for an assault on the rebels. The Abu Sayyaf movement still is believed to be holding 26 hostages.

Former Bulgarian king Simeon II's political movement appeared headed for victory in parliamentary elections. Exit polls showed his National Movement Simeon II party was favored to win 40 to 43 percent of the vote, about double that of the outgoing United Democratic Forces ruling coalition. Simeon returned home months after 55 years in exile in Spain. He initially hoped to run for president but was barred by the courts. Simeon has pledged to raise living standards and fight corruption in the impoverished Balkan country, but politicians including outgoing Prime Minister Ivan Kostov, have accused him of making false promises.

(c) Copyright 2001. The Christian Science Monitor

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