World

With US warplanes shifting their attacks to Taliban front lines in Afghanistan, the hard-line regime opened a heavy propaganda offensive. Taliban officials in Kabul, the capital, and (above, at a news conference) in Pakistan claimed a US bomb had hit a hospital, killing as many as 75 people. The regime also upped its overall count of civilian deaths in the raids to more than 1,000, accused the US of using "biological and chemical weapons in their attacks," and said its troops in the field had shot down at least one American helicopter. (Related stories, pages 1, 6.)

In a striking announcement aimed at salvaging the peace process in Northern Ireland "from collapse," the Irish Republican Army officially was asked to begin surrendering weapons by Gerry Adams, the chief of its political ally. Adams told a news conference in Belfast he and fellow Sinn Fein leader Martin McGuinness had urged the IRA privately that "if it could make a ground-breaking move on the arms isssue, this could ... transform the situation." Absent an IRA initiative, Northern Ireland's power-sharing coalition government is expected to be suspended again this week by Britain. (Story, page 1.)

Militants in the Gaza Strip condemned the outlawing by the Palestinian Authority of the group that claimed responsibility for last week's murder of an Israeli Cabinet minister. But no other action against the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine will be taken as long as Israeli troops remain in towns controlled by Yasser Arafat's authority, an aide said. Meanwhile, the Bethlehem branch of Arafat's Fatah movement vowed it would fire on a neighboring Jewish settlement "in the coming hours" unless Israeli troops withdraw from the city. And in Jerusalem, a Palestinian wounded four people before being killed by an Israeli soldier. (Related story, page 7.)

Sullen but peaceful Albanians looked on as the first ethnically mixed police units entered some Macedonian villages where tensions still run high after fighting between insurgents and government forces earlier this year. The patrols are intended as a confidence-building measure that will be extended to more than 80 villages if successful. The six-man patrols will be lightly armed unless a village is deemed especially tense. In that case, they may be increased to 10 and carry machine guns.

Next May 20 was chosen by the newly elected assembly of East Timor as the date it wants full independence to be granted by the UN. The date is the anniversary of the founding of Fretilin, the territory's largest political party and leading force in the long campaign for independence from Indonesia. East Timor currently is administered by the UN.

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