IRISH PEACE TALKS DEALT DOUBLE BLOW The leader of Northern Ireland's main Protestant party decided yesterday to withdraw from multiparty talks on the province's future, dealing a second blow to the Anglo-Irish peace initiative within 24 hours. Sinn Fein, political wing of the Irish Republican Army guerrillas fighting to oust Britain from Northern Ireland, withheld its crucial backing for faltering peace efforts at a weekend congress. The decisions blunted efforts by London and Dublin to end one of the world's longest-running guerrilla conflicts. Britain and Ireland signed a joint peace declaration in December that sought to allay the concerns of Northern Ireland's Protestant majority, who want to remain British, and the Roman Catholic minority, who aspire to Irish unity. Both governments were pushing for a return to three-strand talks involving the two governments and the main constitutional parties in the war-weary province. They had collapsed in November 1992 amid mutual recriminations. Final Olympics day
The gold medal for drama went to the Swedish hockey team on Sunday. In the last event of the 1994 Olympics, the gold-medal hockey game went through 60 minutes of regulation, then 10 minutes of overtime, then a 10-shot shootout, and then four more shots before Sweden prevailed over Canada, 3-2. It was Sweden's first hockey gold in 74 years of competition. Islamic group shootouts
Algeria's most-wanted fugitive was killed in a shootout, security forces said Sunday. Mourad Si Ahmed, head of the Muslim extremist organization, Armed Islamic Group, and nine of his followers were killed in an assault on a building in Algiers on Saturday. No other details were given in the report. In related news, eight Islamic militants and two policemen were killed in a shootout in the southern Egyptian town of Edfu Sunday night, police said yesterday. Eight militants, believed to belong to the Moslem fundamentalist group the Gama'a al-Islamiya, attacked a police station. They then fled in a car but were stopped by police at a checkpoint. Edfu, 375 miles south of Cairo, is part of a tourist area renowned for its ancient monuments, but also the site of political violence during the last year. Moldovan elections
In their first parliamentary elections since independence, Moldovans voted overwhelmingly for parties that favor closer ties to the former Soviet Union rather than unification with Romania, according to preliminary results yesterday. The Agrarian-Democratic Party, a moderately reformist party that wants Moldova to join the Commonwealth of Independent States, was leading with about 45 percent of the vote in early returns, according to election officials. The results were a resounding defeat for nationalist parties that want Moldova, a former Soviet republic of 4.3 million people, to reunite with neighboring Romania, of which it was a part until the Soviet Union annexed it in 1940.