News In Brief

Six militants died when an explosion destroyed an auto-parts shop in the West Bank and Israeli helicopters rocketed Palestinian police headquarters in the Gaza Strip, wounding at least two people in one of the heaviest days of violence since the intifada began last September. Israeli officials suggested the activists in the shop near Nablus were building a bomb that went off prematurely. In addition, four Israelis and two other Palestinians were wounded in unrelated clashes. The incidents followed Sunday's confrontation between Israeli police and Palestinian stone-throwers in Jerusalem. (Story, page 1; editorial, page 10.)

A Protestant teenager died and his Catholic friend was wounded in a drive-by shooting in Belfast, Northern Ireland, in the latest violence as all sides awaited release of new proposals to salvage the province's power-sharing coalition government. A loyalist paramilitary group calling itself the Red Hand Defenders claimed it staged the attack and vowed more that would "increase in ferocity."

With eight votes to spare, the opposition-dominated upper house of Congress in Argentina OK'd President Fernando de la Rua's controversial $1.3 billion austerity plan. Debate was postponed last week by the opposition Peronist Party, which vowed to offer alternatives. But in the end, it passed without change just before financial markets opened for the week. Despite its deep spending cuts, the plan is seen by economists as the government's only way to resume borrowing money at less than double-digit interest rates.

A news blackout appeared to be in place after reports of another major mining disaster in China, the second in less than a month. Bureaucrats were denying a state-run newspaper's account of flooding in a tin mine in southern Guangxi province that is suspected of killing more than 200 workers. Journalists were prevented from reaching the site, the account said, and victims' families were paid to keep silent. More than 100 people died or remain missing after a coal-mine explosion last week.

Cycling champion Lance Armstrong of the US planned to take time off following his third straight Tour de France victory Sunday for the birth of twins - his wife is due to deliver in December - but announced plans to defend his title in the sport's most prestigious race next year. He also said he'd review his ties to an Italian physician who faces trial in September on a doping charge, but expected to continue their relationship unless the latter is found guilty.

Edward Gierek, who died in Cieszyn, Poland, was forced to resign as his country's prime minister in 1980 after waves of anticommunist protests by workers from the same union he'd legalized not long before. That movement evolved into Solidarity, the first independent labor federation of the former Soviet bloc. Gierek tried to bring reform and Western investment to Poland but spent billions of dollars of borrowed money on industrial projects that soon failed.

(c) Copyright 2001. The Christian Science Monitor

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