News In Brief

Two us peacekeepers died and three others were hurt in Kosovo when their armored personnel carrier overturned. The casualties were the first involving the roughly 5,000 Americans inside the volatile province since NATO-led forces began their mission on the ground there June 12. Their identities were not immediately released.

Hopes for a united opposition front to help bring down Yugo-slav President Milosevic faded when the two men most likely to lead it clashed. Zoran Djindjic of the Alliance for Change rejected further cooperation with the Serbian Renewal Movement's Vuk Draskovic, because of the latter's contention that forming a "salvation" government, not ousting the president, should be the main goal. Three years ago, Djindjic and Draskovic jointly led weeks of anti-Milosevic protests.

An emergency evacuation plan for some people in East Timor "and other assets" is being readied by the Indonesian government, a document obtained by news organizations purports to show. The document projects economic collapse and turmoil between pro-independence forces and those wishing to remain affiliated with Indonesia after next month's autonomy referendum. It discusses routes of retreat for civil servants, Army troops, and their gear. The UN's East Timor mission was studying the document, although the government wouldn't confirm its authenticity.

Political analysts in Indonesia were paying special attention to the claim by opposition leader Megawati Sukarnoputri's party that the military will "probably" back her for president. Her Democratic Party for Struggle won the most seats in parliament in the June 7 national election, but not enough to govern alone, and the ruling Golkar Party of President B. J. Habibie is seeking to keep him in power by forging alliances with other rivals. Gen. Wiranto, the military chief, said his forces would support whoever "can do everything for the nation and the people." Above, guards hold back a man trying to speak to Megawati as she leaves a hotel in Jakarta.

Militant Palestinian groups based in Syria and Lebanon - among them Hizbullah - have been told by the Damascus government to end their "armed struggle" against Israel, spokesmen said. Although declining to be identified, they said Syria's vice president informed them the reason for the order was because his government intends to make peace with the Jewish state. The militants were told to "form political parties and work on social issues," one spokes-man said.

The world's heaviest gamblers are Australians, according to a government panel. A draft report by the Productivity Commission said 82 percent of Australians gambled in fiscal 1997-98, losing an average of $800 a year (US$528) on slot machines and horse races - twice as much as Americans or Europeans, and twice what Australians spent on gambling a decade ago.

Once again, the Tour de France bicycle race was confronting an image problem after the winner of its 11th stage was dropped by his team. Ludo Dierckxsens of Belgium, riding for Lampre, an Italian team, reportedly admitted to using a forbidden drug to aid recovery from a knee injury. Last year, members of the Festina team admitted to taking performance-enhancing drugs. Festina subsequently was banned from the race.

(c) Copyright 1999. The Christian Science Publishing Society

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