News In Brief

The standoff over allowing Russian peacekeeping troops into a key Kosovo town entered its second day, although senior officers were meeting with ethnic Albanian leaders to try to resolve the matter. The Russians' presence is intended to encourage Serb residents of Orahovac to stay, despite UN estimates that the restive province is being "emptied out" by Albanians. The Russians, who are scheduled to replace Dutch troops, said they were prepared to wait out the opposition by Orahovac residents.

A narrow defeat in next week's vote on the future status of East Timor will lead to renewed guerrilla war, a spokesman for anti-independence militiamen warned. Tito Baptista of the United Front for East Timor Autonomy said if the outcome of the referendum favors independence by no more than 20 percent "it is enough to fight a hundred years." He accused the UN, which is organizing the Monday vote, of showing partiality toward independence. If Indonesia's offer of autonomy is rejected, the Jakarta government has said it would grant full independence.

The first foreign rescue teams pulled out of earthquake-battered Turkey as searches for survivors wound down. Meanwhile, the government canceled tomorrow's Victory Day celebrations in memory of the 1922 expulsion of foreign occupation forces - and was reported debating a tax increase on fuel, tobacco products, and cellular phones to help meet the cost of dealing with the disaster.

The final rebel faction seeking to topple Congo President Laurent Kabila has dropped its opposition to the July 10 peace deal reached by other parties to the country's civil war, a spokesman said. The 51 founding members of the Goma faction of the Congolese Rally for Democracy (RCD) would travel to Lusaka, Zambia, to sign the accord as soon as the end of this week, he said. Earlier, the RCD's Kisangani faction also endorsed - and vowed to sign - the deal. The two have waged an internal power struggle that erupted in violence earlier this month, killing at least 200 people. Together, they hold huge chunks of the vast Central African nation wrested from Kabila's forces since the war broke out a year ago.

Census-takers fanned out across Kenya to begin what's hoped will be the most accurate count of the population to date. But some analysts said the week-long process was likely to be as controversial as the last census, when President Daniel arap Moi was accused of rigging the results to make his small Tugen tribe appear far larger, countering the influence of the numerically dominant Kikuyu. The new census forms also ask controversial questions about tribal and religious affiliation as well as infant mortality.

A 1 a.m. collision between a cargo ship and a cruise vessel returning from a two-week tour of Scandinavian capitals injured at least 20 people and caused hazardous materials to spill into the English Channel, authorities said. Despite extensive damage to its hull, the Norwegian Dream reached the port of Dover, England, safely. Most of its 1,726 passengers were Americans. The Panamanian-registered cargo ship Ever Decent was adrift, with its crew working to put out a fire that resulted from the collision.

(c) Copyright 1999. The Christian Science Publishing Society

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