News In Brief

International condemnation poured down on the government of Indonesia and the armed gangs rampaging through East Timor to protest last week's decisive vote for independence. Indonesian security troops reportedly were doing nothing to stop the gangs from seeking out and killing independence supporters, with the number of deaths believed to be in the hundreds. Thousands of other Timorese were being rounded up and deported , and the UN ordered the evacuation of its workers to Australia. The violence began soon after the referendum but has worsened since the UN declared that 78.5 percent of the voters chose indepenence over an autonomy offer from Indonesia.

For the first time, Israeli Arabs were suspected of being directly involved in car-bomb attempts inside the Jewish state, security experts said. Two such bombs exploded - apparently prematurely - minutes apart Sunday, less than a day after Prime Minister Ehud Barak and Palestinian Authority President Yasser Arafat signed a revised land-for-peace agreement. Two of the three victims were identified as members of an Islamic fundamentalist organization.

An attempt on the life of Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak ended with his guards killing the assailant in the city of Port Said. Reports said the man, "known for impulsive behavior," cut Mubarak and one guard slightly with "a sharp tool." Mubarak, who's seeking reelection Sept. 26, has survived three previous assassination attempts. His predecessor, Anwar Sadat, was assassinated by Islamic militants in 1981.

One more attempt to break the logjam holding up last year's peace agreement in Northern Ireland was begun by its mediator, former US Sen. George Mitchell. In Belfast, he began a "review" of the deal aimed at setting a timetable for disarming Catholic and Protesant guerrillas. Formation of a power-sharing, self-rule government for the province is months overdue because its Protestant leadership refuses to sit with Catholics until the Irish Republican Army at least begins the handover of its weapons.

Strong showings were being claimed by both the ruling coalition of Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee and opposition leader Sonia Gandhi's Congress Party in Round 1 of national elections in India. An estimated 80 million people voted Sunday for one-quarter of the seats in the lower house of Parliament. But the turnout - 55 percent - reflected declining interest, analysts said, because this is India's third national election in three years. Ballots won't be tallied until Oct. 6, when all five rounds are complete.

Saying, "there's no way to put a positive spin on it," strategists in German Chancellor Gerhard Schrder's Social Democratic Party (SPD) were trying to regroup after stinging defeats in two state elections. Analysts blamed the weekend losses in Brandenburg and Saarland on disenchantment with the government's failure to cut significantly into the high unemployment rate and its zigzag course on budget reductions and tax reform. The defeats were the SPD's second and third in state elections since coming to power last fall, with more losses projected Sunday in Thuringia.

(c) Copyright 1999. The Christian Science Publishing Society

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