News In Brief

With only the votes from his own strongholds remaining to be counted, former military ruler Olusegun Obasanjo appeared the certain winner in Nigeria's presidential election. Obasanjo had yet to declare victory over ex-Finance Minister Olu Falae, but his supporters were gathering in the capital, Abuja, for a celebration. Falae called the election "a farce" and his party said it "could not be bound" by results of the vote-count.

A new flashpoint in Kosovo threatened to spin out of control two weeks before more peace negotiations are scheduled to open outside Paris. Serb forces and ethnic Albanian separatists were fighting at Kacanik, a village in southern Kosovo near the border with Macedonia on the first anniversary of the province's civil war. Three people, one of them a Serb policeman, were reported killed. Serb authorities were preventing as many as 3,000 Albanian refugees from crossing to safety in Macedonia.

With its organizers under arrest and would-be participants being prevented from attending, a human-rights seminar in China was canceled. It had been timed to coincide with an official visit by Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, who was expected to emphasize again US concern over China's record on rights issues. The Foreign Ministry said it was "seriously displeased" at last week's release by the State Department of an annual report criticizing sharp deterioration in China over the past year in human rights.

A crushing defeat appeared in store for hard-liners in Iran's local elections - an outcome that even their own sympathetic newspapers were reporting. The Tehran Times, for example, urged candidates from rigid conservative ranks to forgive and forget efforts at manipulation of the vote by supporters of the relatively moderate reform-minded President Mohamad Khatami. Voting was so heavy in the first local balloting since 1979 that some polls remained open far into the night.

"An external enemy" was being blamed for six explosions that killed one person, injured another, and left Zambia's capital without water. A seventh bomb was defused. Security forces were on high alert against further attacks in Lusaka, and guard posts on the borders with Namibia, Angola, and Congo were reinforced. One of the bombs heavily damaged Angola's Embassy. Angolan President Jose Eduardo dos Santos accuses Zambia of aiding the rebels fighting his government.

"Total victory" was declared by the Ethiopian government after its troops recaptured a disput-ed area along the border with Eritrea. The announcement did not say whether all fighting had stopped and made no mention of Eritrea's acceptance of an Organization of African Unity plan aimed at reaching a truce.

Computer hackers have seized control of one of Britain's four military-communications satellites and are demanding cash to stop interfering with it, the newspaper Sunday Business reported. Citing security sources, it said the hackers had altered the course of the satellite, which is used by defense planners. Police said their investigation was at too sensitive a stage to comment on the issue.

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