RUSSIAN ARTILLERY POUNDS GROZNY Russian forces launched a major new attack on the capital of secessionist Chechnya yesterday, slamming the city with salvo after salvo of artillery fire in the heaviest shelling yet. Hundreds of tanks, armored personnel carriers, and troop trucks were moving on several roads toward Grozny (see related stories, Pages 1 and 6). In villages along the route, Chechens were trying to organize defense units but lacked heavy weapons. In Grozny, the Chechens were increasingly hard-pressed to hold the city center as Russian infantry moved toward the Presidential Palace in an effort to completely surround the battered building. Changing Belfast

Police officers will do without military escorts in Belfast during daylight hours, their chief constable announced yesterday. The step, effective Sunday, demonstrates growing confidence in the cease-fire begun Sept. 1 by the Irish Republican Army, which had made police officers a particular target of its campaign to end British rule in the province.

Order puts wolves on hold

While lawyers wrangled over their future, 12 Canadian wolves were curled up yesterday in travel kennels, stopped just hours short of their release into Idaho and Wyoming. A federal appeals court late Wednesday blocked the wolves' release, giving itself until 5 p.m. today to consider pleadings filed by ranchers who are concerned that the wolves will wander into grazing areas and attack cattle and sheep.

India-US security pact

India and the United States signed a military cooperation agreement in New Delhi yesterday. ``This accord is the first important step by India and the United States toward achieving normal security relations in more than 40 years,'' US Defense Secretary William Perry said at the signing. India's home minister, S.B. Chavan, said the agreement ``will allow us to forget the past and improve our relationship in a new atmosphere.''

Pope visits Philippines

President Fidel Ramos ordered the release of 24 political prisoners just hours before Pope John Paul II arrived yesterday for a five-day visit.

Fog strands air travelers

Dense fog lingered over much of Illinois yesterday after forcing the cancellation of hundreds of flights at Chicago's airports. About 550 of Midway Airport's 579 scheduled takeoffs and landings were canceled Wednesday, and about 400 flights were scrubbed at O'Hare International Airport, which handles 2,500 flights a day.

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