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Thousands of Protestant marchers took to the streets for Northern Ireland's biggest parade day, a traditionally tense event known as "the Twelfth," during which the Protestant Orange Order plans hundreds of parades across Northern Ireland to commemorate a 1690 military victory over Catholic forces. As marches began, there appeared to be relative calm, though at least a dozen rioters hurled firebombs at police monitoring the event. Marches come after talks among British and Irish prime ministers, as well as the North's main political parties, failed to break a deadlock over the IRA's refusal to disarm.

About 200 South African government workers tore down squatters' shacks on land near Johannesburg after a judge ruled that their occupancy was illegal. Hundreds of squatters, including Winnie Bembe and her son Thabiso, remained as the demotions began. Several thousand poor people settled two weeks ago on the land, owned partly by the government, after the opposition Pan-Africanist Congress illegally sold the plots for $3 each.

A bitter row over Japanese history textbooks accused of whitewashing World War II atrocities intensified as South Korean adopted sanctions against Japan. Angered by Japan's refusal to revise the controversial middle-school books, South Korea froze all military exchanges and canceled plans to open its market to Japanese music, cartoons, and video games. Japan has angered Asian neighbors, who say the books ignore atrocities, such as the thousands of Asian women forced to work as sex slaves for Japanese soldiers.

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Israeli tanks shelled a Palestinian police post in the West Bank town of Nablus, killing a Palestinian security officer in retaliation for shooting attacks that wounded four Israelis. The violence marked a further escalation in ongoing fighting that has not halted despite a US-backed truce declared a month ago.

The only deputy representing the breakaway Republic of Chechnya in Russia's parliament, Aslambek Aslakhanov, threatened to resign unless Moscow's troops improved their treatment of the area's civilian population. His threat came a day after Russia's top military chief in Chechnya admitted Russian troops, who raided three Chechen villages last week, committed "large-scale crimes" and "lawless acts," including beating, torturing, and robbing Chechen civilians during the searches.

Paramilitary officers and armored cars guarded the homes of Indonesia's two top police commanders in defiance of President Abdurrahman Wahid's demands that they be arrested for plotting against him. A senior Cabinet minister also refused to carry out the arrest order by Wahid, who is likely to be ousted by the national assembly when it meets Aug. 1. Wahid is accused of corruption and incompetence.

(c) Copyright 2001. The Christian Science Monitor

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