RIVAL GROUPS FIGHT IN MOGADISHU A 19-month-old truce between Somalia's two main warlords broke down yesterday in Mogadishu as rival forces clashed in their first major battle since the cease-fire was signed. Heavy fighting shattered the relative calm along the city's Green Line, which separates the southern sector held by Gen. Mohamed Farah Aideed and Mogadishu's northern neighborhoods, controlled by Mohamed Ali Mahdi. United Nations and United States forces appeared to be staying out of the fray. The fighting broke out when Mr. Ali Mahdi's supporters crossed to Mr. Aideed's southern stronghold to attend a rally Ali Mahdi had called. Aideed's faction had warned Ali Mahdi's supporters not to come to his sector of the city. Iraqi `plot' questioned

President Clinton's order to bomb Baghdad last June after an alleged plot to kill former President Bush was based on a ``circumstantial'' case that was overstated by the White House, a report published Sunday said. Seymour Hersh, a Pulitizer prize-winning investigative reporter, wrote in The New Yorker magazine, on newstands yesterday, that the case against Iraq, at least as outlined in public, was ``seriously flawed.'' The most glaring weakness, according to Mr. Hersh, was the assertion that a remote-control firing device found in a Kuwaiti car bomb had the same ``signature'' as previously recovered Iraqi bombs. Mexican poverty declines

Four years of free-market reforms in Mexico have helped lift more than 1 million Mexicans out of abject poverty, a UN-sponsored study found.

The drop in the poverty rate reversing a years-long trend comes as the US Congress debates whether Mexico's living standards are rising sufficiently to join in a free-trade partnership under NAFTA. The study found that 13.6 million Mexicans lived in ``extreme poverty'' in 1992, about 16.2 percent of the population. That's an 8.7 percent drop from 1989's total of 14.9 million people, or 18.9 percent of the population. Angolan peace talks

The Angolan government planned to observe but not participate when talks opened yesterday in Lisbon on ending Angola's 18-year civil war. The UN representative to Angola planned to meet separately with both the UNITA rebels and the government, hoping to discuss restarting face-to-face peace talks.

The Angolan government is demanding that the rebels pull back troops from occupied areas, accept the results of last year's multiparty elections that UNITA lost, and recognize government authority. Village slaughter suspected

UN military observers, barred by Bosnian Croat soldiers from entering the smoldering ruins of a Muslim village in central Bosnia, said they feared that many of its people had been slaughtered. The Croats attacked Stupni Dol, which had an all-Muslim population of about 260, Saturday. Infantry entered the village supported by heavy mortar and artillery fire in what UN officers described as ``very heavy fighting.'' Uncorroborated accounts from a handful of Muslim survivors suggested that 60 civilians could have been killed in the assault while the rest of the population was taken prisoner. Airfares cut

Northwest Airlines has cut its holiday fares up to 40 percent on domestic flights and rival American Airlines has vowed to match the offer on competing routes. The nonrefundable tickets must be bought at least 14 days in advance. Travel must take place by Jan. 15, but tickets must be purchased by Friday. D.C. and Guardsmen

Attorney General Janet Reno suggested Sunday that the Clinton administration is cool to the idea of deploying National Guard troops in the nation's capital. Ms. Reno said federal officials were reviewing Mayor Sharon Pratt Kelly's request Friday that President Clinton allow Guard members to serve in police duties in the city, but she stressed the importance of building relationships between local police forces and communities. Meanwhile, city officials scrambled to correct what they said were misperceptions about the role the Guard would play in the district.

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