News In Brief

Border-crossing points from kosovo into Albania and Macedonia were closed by Yugoslav troops, forcing tens of thousands of refugees back toward the homes they'd fled, international aid workers said. They said ethnic Albanians were being told it was safe to return because of the unilateral cease-fire declared by Yugoslavia for the Orthodox Easter holiday. Elsewhere, as the Monitor went to press, Greek Cypriot leader Spyros Kyprianou reportedly planned to escort three captured US soldiers out of Yugoslavia as a "goodwill gesture" by President Slobodan Milosevic.

"Foreign legal experts" will be permitted to take part in the trial of Khmer Rouge guerrilla leader Ta Mok, the Cambodian government said. The announcement represents a softening of Premier Hun Sen's original stand that Cambodian courts alone would consider charges of terrorism and possibly genocide against the rebel chief. But Hun Sen told visiting US Sen. John Kerry (D) of Massachusetts that the trial still would be held under Cambodian jurisdiction. Hun Sen's government has been under pressure to submit the case to an international tribunal.

The bitter divisions over independence for East Timor deepened as evidence emerged that Indonesian troops helped in the killings of at least five people and perhaps dozens of others in an attack on a church where they'd sought shelter. More than 20 others were reported hurt in the assault by opponents of independence. The province's Nobel Peace Prize-winner, Roman Catholic Bishop Carlos Belo, called for calm but demanded an official investigation. In Jakarta, the Indonesian capital, an armed forces spokesman denied the attack resulted in any deaths.

Fifteen thousand troops, supported by air power and a force of village guardsmen crossed from Turkey into northern Iraq in search of Kurdish rebel camps, published reports said. The offensive was the second of its type since Turkish commandos captured Kurdish guerrilla leader Abdullah Ocalan Feb. 15. Ocalan awaits trial in Turkey on treason charges.

Dismissing claims that its case was politically motivated, the Mexican government issued an arrest warrant for fugitive ex-Gov. Mario Villaneuva of Quintana Roo state. The move came as newspapers published a letter from Villaneuva alleging he'd been hounded out of office on trumped-up narcotics charges after falling out of favor with the ruling Institutional Revolutionary Party. He hasn't been seen in public since March 27 and is suspected of fleeing to Panama.

Logging in the world's largest remaining tropical rain forest is destroying twice as much land each year as previously believed, a new report in the scientific journal Nature said. US researchers, working with Brazilian scientists, said they found up to 5,800 square miles of the Amazon being "impoverished" by the cutting of trees, with additional damage from the slash-and-burn tactics of landholders. They said satellite-based monitoring of deforestation needs to be supplemented by such methods as interviewing local landholders and sawmill operators.

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