News In Brief

All of next month's National Day festivities were canceled in Taiwan as major aftershocks rocked the island in the hours after Tuesday's early-morning earthquake. Authorities raised the number of deaths and injuries from the initial quake to 1,869 and 4,460, respectively. Another 2,600 are believed to be still trapped inside collapsed buildings, and more than 100,000 are estimated to be homeless. There also were concerns that Taiwan's multibillion-dollar-a-year semiconductor industry could be idled for weeks.

Newly arrived UN peacekeepers in East Timor confiscated hundreds of crude but deadly fire-arms from suspected troublemakers in and around the capital, Dili. But they were unable to stop anti-independence militias from setting fire to more buildings. Indonesian soldiers, despite their impending withdrawal from the territory, also were accused of harassing separatist refugees under UN guard. Meanwhile, the peacekeepers had to chase hungry looters away from a government warehouse, but not until sacks of rice and flour and cans of cooking oil were stolen.

Saying, "It's over with a multi- ethnic Kosovo," Serb representatives quit the joint council formed to advise UN officials on forging the province's future. They said the new civil protection corps, which was set up mainly for ethnic-Albanian members of the Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA) was the last straw in their decision. They accuse the UN as well as the NATO peacekeeping force of perpetuating the KLA in a new guise and of siding with the majority Albanians in an attempt to move Kosovo closer to independence.

Air force jets bombed suspected rebel bases inside Chechnya and thousands of ground troops have sealed the border, but a senior Russian general denied any intent to launch a military invasion of the breakaway region. Russia lost a two-year conflict with Chechen forces in 1996, and such a move is considered certain to ignite a new war. Russia's Defense Ministry claims Chechnya is harboring Islamic militants who cross into neighboring Dagestan to wage a campaign for independence. It also blames Chechen militants for training the agents who planted at least four apartment-building bombs that have exploded in Russian cities this month, causing more than 200 deaths.

Over the protests of a local Indian tribe, the government of Colombia granted a license to drill for oil near its 543,000-acre reservation to Los Angeles-based Occidental Petroleum. The company is said to believe that the area near the border with Venezuela may hold up to 2.5 billion barrels of crude. A spokesman for the U'wa tribe said the government's move "spells cultural and environmental genocide."

The world's 6 billionth human will be born on or about Oct. 12, the UN Population Fund projected. In a report released in London, the agency said most of the growth occurs in impoverished and poorly prepared regions, such as sub-Saharan Africa and West Asia. Among its other findings: More than 1 billion people are in - or just entering - their prime child-producing years.

(c) Copyright 1999. The Christian Science Publishing Society

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