News In Brief

Iraqi jets rocketed another Iranian tanker in the Gulf yesterday, and Iran said it shot down an Iraqi MIG with a Stinger missile. Baghdad denied that Iran had knocked down any of its planes. In London, Lloyds Shipping Intelligence said it understood the Alamoot was hit by the Iraqi planes. It gave no details of casualties or damage.

France expels or detains 26 opposed to Iran regime

The French Interior Ministry said in a statement yesterday that 14 Iranians and three Turkish citizens, all members of the People's Mojahedin of Iran, were put on a plane to the West African country of Gabon yesterday morning. The ministry said nine other Mojahedin - eight Iranians and one Turk - were placed under house arrest.

The government of Premier Jacques Chirac denied charges by the Iranian opposition that its actions stemmed from negotiations with Iran over French hostages in Lebanon.

Nicaragua says American captured in small plane

A US citizen was captured when his small plane was attacked and he made an emergency landing in the southeast near the Costa Rican border, the Defense Ministry said yesterday. A Nicaraguan ministry statement said that James Jordan Denbys's plane was shot down ``when he violated Nicaraguan airspace,'' and that documents captured along with the American linked him to the US government and the US-supported contras.

Separately, Sen. Armando Villanueva, a leading Peruvian politician, said late Monday that Peru is supplying $20 million worth of oil to Nicaragua as a humanitarian gesture.

Argentina workers begin 10th general strike

Argentine workers began a 34-hour general strike yesterday that forms part of a rising wave of criticism of the nation's economic policy. The general strike is the 10th to be staged by the General Labor Confederation against Peruvian President Ra'ul Alfons'in in the last four years.

Mayoral candidate killed in northern Philippines

An unidentified gunman killed Pacifico Matias, a mayoral candidate in the northern Philippines, yesterday, bringing to 11 the number of people killed in the run-up to local elections next month. Separately, two bombs exploded in Manila yesterday, wounding at least four people as the Philippines prepared to welcome officials preparing for next week's Southeast Asian summit.

4 ex-prisoners arrested in USSR going to parley

Four former political prisoners were arrested in the Ukraine en route to an unofficial human rights seminar in Moscow and charged with possession of drugs, an activist said yesterday. Meanwhile, a spokesman for Jewish refusedniks said 14 people were arrested in Moscow outside the Foreign Ministry, where they had planned to hold a demonstration.

And in the US, 30 protesters were arrested in demonstrations connected with the visit of Soviet leader Gorbachev.

Soviet leaders refuse Rust's appeal for pardon

An appeal for a pardon by Mathias Rust, the teen-age West German pilot who landed his plane next to the Kremlin last May, has been turned down, Soviet Foreign Ministry spokesman Yuri Gremitskikh said yesterday. Mr. Rust had appealed for pardon to the Presidium of the Supreme Soviet after being sentenced in September to four years in a labor camp for violating flight and border laws.

Mr. Gremitskikh said the request was refused because there were no extraordinary circumstances in Rust's case.

US OKs mixed-sex crews for underground missiles

The US Air Force is striking down the last restriction on the assignment of female officers to nu clear missile crews, authorizing them to serve on mixed teams with men in underground launch control centers. The change in policy, when it becomes effective Jan. 1, will end the current practice of requiring women to serve with other women on the two-member crews that control long-range Minuteman and MX nuclear missiles.

2 Kemp officials resign in Michigan in rules row

State Sen. Dick Posthumus and Larrain Thomas, first vice-chairwoman of the state party, two top officials of Jack Kemp's Michigan campaign, have resigned. The two said they can no longer support the party rule changes sought by Mr. Kemp and the Rev. Pat Robertson, which have stirred considerable infighting over control of the state Republican committee.

Backers for Kemp and Mr. Robertson, who joined forces earlier this year, have triggered battles with supporters of Vice-President George Bush and prompted threats of separate county and state conventions next month when Michigan selects its delegates to the Republican National Convention.

Plane crash blamed on sabotage

The crash of Pacific Southwest Airlines Flight 1771 appeared to have been caused by ``a criminal act,'' the FBI said yesterday, while news reports said a former USAir employee who was planning to kill his boss was among the 43 people aboard. ``At this point it does not appear that it was an accident,'' said Richard Bretzing, special agent in charge of the FBI in Los Angeles.

The pilot of the jet radioed that there was gunfire aboard and smoke in the cockpit shortly before the commuter plane crashed onto a cattle ranch in central California Monday afternoon, killing all aboard, officials and witnesses said.

ABC News said a former employee of USAir, using his airline badge to avoid security checks, boarded the plane intending to kill his former boss, who had recently fired him. The former employee reportedly left behind a suicide note in which he said he planned to board the plane with a gun and ammunition.

In Washington, a spokesman for USAir said the former employee had been fired Nov. 19 ``for misappropriation of funds.'' But spokesman David Shipley said he had no information as to whether the former employee was involved in the crash. The plane's ``black box'' data recorder was found and flown to Washington, officials said.

USAir bought Pacific Southwest Airlines earlier this year but continues to operate it as a separate airline.

For the record

Bangladeshi President Hossain Muhammad Ershad said for the first time late Monday that he may agree to new presidential elections to halt the opposition campaign to topple his government. Savings bonds held by 30 million Americans hit a record $100 billion in November as sales climbed by 11.5 percent over the October pace, the government reported yesterday.

An American Bar Association panel decided unanimously yesterday to give Supreme Court nominee Anthony Kennedy its highest rating of ``well-qualified'' a week before the Senate opens hearings on him.

About 150 Tamil Tiger guerrillas assaulted a rival group's camp in Sri Lanka's North-Western Province, killing two men, state radio said yesterday.

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