News In Brief

An improvement in weather over Yugoslavia allowed NATO jets to strike the country's Air Force headquarters as well as an Army base used for launching operations against ethnic Albanians in Kosovo. Alliance officials denied Yugoslav claims that one NATO plane had been shot down. Meanwhile, the alliance also upped the number of Albanians driven from their homes in Kosovo over the past year to 831,000, or more than half the province's original population.

Two former Libyan intelligence agents arrived in the Netherlands under UN escort for their trial on charges of bombing Pan Am Flight 103. The Libyan government had refused to hand over Abdel Basset Ali al-Megrahi and Lamen Khalifa Fhimah for a decade after investigators linked them to the December 1988 explosion over Lockerbie, Scotland, that killed 259 people aboard the plane and 11 on the ground. The trial could last up to two years, legal experts said.

The economic sanctions against Libya - imposed by the UN seven years ago - automatically were suspended as the two suspects landed in The Hague. The sanctions did not stop the sale of Libyan oil to Europe, but have hurt trade in oil-related equipment and commercial air traffic. Unilateral sanctions dating back to the 1980s, however, will continue to keep US companies from returning to Libya.

Saying he had "no choice," the leader of the separatist movement in East Timor ordered his followers to take up arms again against Indonesia loyalists and Army units. From Jakarta, where he is under house arrest, Jose (Xanana) Gusmao issued the command after soldiers fired on pro-independence activists in the latest in a series of clashes with Timorese who wish to remain under Indonesian rule. Reports said at least two people and perhaps as many as 17 were killed. Gusmao's order cast doubt on prospects for a peaceful solution to the East Timor problem. In early February, after the Jakarta government suggested it would grant independence to the ex-Portuguese colony, he urged all sides to disarm.

The loading of oil at a vital export terminal in southern Iraq was unaffected by a new series of bombing raids by US and British jets, industry sources said. They spoke in London after Iraq claimed that an attack Sunday had destroyed a pipe-line control station. An earlier raid, last Friday, was said to have destroyed another control center, although it was quickly replaced. The raids were the first following a 12-day lull in Iraqi targeting of planes patrolling the no-fly zones at the northern and southern ends of the country.

As many as 35,000 heavily armed police were ordered to guard polling places across Sri Lanka as five of the island nation's nine provinces hold crucial elections today. Voting is for councils that deal with local affairs, but the outcome is expected to be seen as either an approval or rejection of Prime Minister Chandrika Kumara-tunga's handling of the ongoing civil war with Tamil separatists. More than 1,000 incidents of violence were recorded in six weeks of campaigning leading up to today's balloting. Sri Lanka holds a national election next year.

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