News In Brief

NATO peacekeeping forces in Kosovo struggled to stifle ethnic unrest over the weekend amid reports of looting and two house-burnings in Pristina, the capital. Displaced Kosovars apparently set the fires, lashing out at local Gypsies, whom they accused of collaborating with Yugoslav government forces. Many Gypsies reportedly fled when Serb troops withdrew from Kosovo. Serb civilians also retreated from the city of Pec over the weekend, concerned about similar revenge attacks by ethnic Albanians. Yugoslavia officially lifted its state of war Saturday.

As military leaders signed a draft cease-fire agreement, hopes ran high that the 11-month civil war in the Democratic Republic of the Congo was nearing an end. The document was agreed to at talks in Lusaka, Zambia. It reportedly calls for a halt in hostilities by all sides, the future withdrawl of at least six African armies involved in the conflict, and the eventual deployment of UN peacekeepers. The rebels, backed by Rwanda and Uganda, control large areas of the country's east and south. Soldiers from Chad, Angola, Namibia, and Zimbabwe support Congolese President Laurent Kabila. No plans for a divided Congo are reportedly in the making.

New Algerian president Abdelaziz Bouteflika announced plans to release "thousands" of imprisoned Islamic militants, in a deal between his secular government and the Islamic Salvation Army (AIS). Algeria was plunged into violence in early 1992 after authorities cancelled an election set to be won by Islamic fundamentalists. Bouteflika's move followed an AIS decision earlier this month to cease its guerilla war against the state.

Hundreds of people protested outside Hong Kong's immigration office after the Chinese parliament voted to overturn a court ruling that would have granted residency rights there to a potentially massive number of mainlanders. In the two years since Britain surrendered the colony, Hong Kong has enjoyed a measure of autonomy - including its own Constitution - under the so-called "one country, two systems" formula. Under this reinterpretation, mainland Chinese can only apply for residency if they entered Hong Kong between the July 1997 handover and Jan. 29 of this year. Many of the protesters claim rights to residency because they have relatives living in Hong Kong.

Fifty European and Latin American heads of state gathered in Rio de Janeiro for a two-day conference starting today. They are expected to discuss human rights, cooperative efforts to halt drug trafficking, rescheduling debt, and establishing free trade.

Former Greek dictator George Papadopoulous, who died yesterday, was serving a life sentence in prison for treason. Claiming to fight for Greece's freedom from communists, Papadopoulous led a military junta that tortured and jailed thousands of Greeks from 1969 until he was deposed in 1973. The European Commission on Human Rights later ruled that no communist threat existed.

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