News In Brief

Deep regret was expressed by NATO spokesmen for the aerial attack on a civilian convoy in Kosovo that, Yugoslavia said, killed 64 ethnic Albanian refugees and wounded 20 others. But the alliance said the bomb that hit the convoy was dropped after careful reconnaissance by one of its pilots and that the accident would not weaken its resolve to continue punishing Yugoslavia until the latter ceases hostilities in the troubled province. The accident was followed by the heaviest raid so far against the Yugoslav capital, Belgrade.

Another nuclear-capable missile - the second in two days - was test-fired by Pakistan in response to a similarly successful launching by India last Sunday. But while the Pakistani test brought international protests and warnings that the two rivals now were close to a full-blown arms race, India's Defense Minister said there was "no cause for concern" or violation of a bilateral agreement on weapons testing signed in February.

The possibility of elections for a sixth government in three years loomed for Indians as Parliament prepared to vote tomorrow on a motion of no-confidence in Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee. Analysts said there appeared to be little likelihood he'd survive it. That would leave President K.R. Narayanan with the choice of calling for a new election just 13 months after Vajapyee's coalition assumed power or inviting the opposition Congress Party - whose alliances in Parliament give it roughly the same number of seats - to try to form a minority government.

Early voter turnout was light as Algerians chose their new president from a field that narrowed to one candidate. Still, ex-Foreign Minister Abdelaziz Bouteflika urged voters to support him because "I don't want to [win] without popular legitimacy." His six rivals quit the race Wednesday, claiming pledges of a fair election hadn't been honored. They were expected to call for nationwide demonstrations today to protest the election.

Extradition proceedings that could yet send Augusto Pinochet to Spain for trial on torture charges should go forward, Britain's Home Secretary ruled. Jack Straw said the remaining charges against the ex-Chilean dictator, now under house arrest near London, "are serious" even though a court dismissed all others dating to before 1988. Pinochet governed Chile from 1973 to 1990, and thousands of Spanish nationals are alleged to have been victims of his repressive rule.

Two more hostages were freed by leftist guerrillas in Colombia, bringing to eight the number let go since the hijacking of a domestic airliner earlier this week. The captors have yet to issue demands in return for releasing the remaining 33 hostages, who've been in hiding since their flight was forced onto a remote landing strip. The incident cast doubt on the scheduled resumption next week of peace talks between the government and the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia. President Andrs Pastrana said he wouldn't yield to any rebel demands.

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