News In Brief

Slobodan Milosevic's villa in an exclusive section of Belgrade was heavily damaged by laser-guided bombs one day after the attack on his political-party headquarters, bringing accusations of a campaign to kill the Yugoslav president. Milosevic and his family weren't home at the time, government sources said. In Washington, a Pentagon spokesman denied that NATO was targeting Milosevic.

"No obvious results" were reported as a visiting US trade negotiator ended his first day of talks in Beijing amid renewed accusations that China had stolen American nuclear weapons secrets. Robert Cassidy was trying to conclude a deal that would admit China to the World Trade Organization following similar unsuccessful efforts while Premier Zhu Rongji was in the US last week. But as Cassidy was meeting Chinese negotiators, the Foreign Ministry rejected the testimony of CIA Director George Tenet, who briefed congressional intelligence committees in Washington on the loss of nuclear weapons technology.

Armed anti-independence militiamen ignored the newly signed truce in East Timor and sealed off access to the capital, barricading residents in the city all night, reports said. They also ordered journalists to turn back as they tried to accompany human-rights investigators to the site of the April 6 massacre of pro-separatist civilians.

Israelis were left to sort out a dispute between Prime Minister Netanyahu and a newspaper over resuming talks with Syria on the future of the Golan Heights. The daily Ha'aretz said Israel had met Syrian demands to pick up where the talks left off in early 1996, when the then-Labor Party government reportedly was willing to withdraw completely from the strategic plateau. Netanyahu aides called the report, published in the heat of the Israeli election campaign, "complete nonsense." Ha'aretz's military editor said he stood by it.

Indications that their prime minister might back down from an unpopular 30 percent hike in gasoline taxes were restoring calm to Jamaica. Schools and stores reopened after violent protests in which at least six people reportedly died. Prime Minister P.J. Patterson appoint-ed a special committee to study the issue, saying it "may" recommend a rollback of the tax. Opposition leaders vowed to call protesters back to the streets if that recommendation was not forthcoming. The unrest caused some airlines and cruise ships to cancel trips to the tourist island.

A captain of Fidel Castro's security detail defected and asked for political asylum while the Cuban president was in the Dominican Republic for last weekend's summit of Caribbean heads of state, reports said. Lazaro de Betancourt was at the US Embassy in Santo Domingo, according to "highly placed sources" in the Dominican government. The State Department and the Santo Domingo embassy declined to comment.

New violence erupted in Haiti, where protesters were blaming police for the shooting death of a political activist. Businesses closed in the capital, Port-au-Prince, as rioters set fire to vendors' stalls, smashed windows of passing cars, and threw bottles at security forces. Anger has grown since April 9, when two youths were killed, allegedly to avenge the death of a riot policeman in a confrontation with street-gang members.

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