News In Brief

Bombing of the capital of breakaway Chechnya will not stop until Islamic militants are wiped out, senior Russian officials vowed. Prime Minister Vladimir Putin said air raids - in their fifth straight day Monday - would knock out Chechnya's infrastructure and "patiently, methodically destroy" the militants, who are believed to be using the republic as their base for a violent separatist insurrection in neighboring Dagestan. Chechen President Aslan Maskhadov sought an urgent meeting with Russian leader Boris Yeltsin to discuss a halt to the airstrikes. But Putin said while Russia was planning for such a meeting, it would take place when Yeltsin deems it appropriate.

UN peacekeepers extended their control in East Timor to a town that was the site of a church massacre by anti-independence militias last April. But as they arrived in Liquica, reports from the province's second-largest city, Baucau, said as many as 16 people - two of them missionary nuns - were killed in the latest attack by the militias.

"All the appeals that are necessary" will be presented to keep ex-Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet from being extradited, his lawyers vowed as hearings into the issue opened in London. Pinochet is fighting efforts to bring him to Spain, where prosecutors want to try him for human-rights abuses against Spanish nationals during his 17 years in power. He has been under house arrest near the British capital since receiving medical treatment last October. Only Chilean courts, his lawyers say, have the jurisdiction to try him.

A new split among the senior Islamic clerics who govern Iran was opened by reaction to a play written by university students that spoofs the nation's rigid religious conservatism. Relatively moderate President Mohamad Khatami deplored the play, whose script appeared last month in an obscure campus periodical. But he said calls by leading conservative clerics for the authors to be executed were a "calculated design" to incite the nation for political advantage. The conservatives oppose Khatami's efforts to aid diversity of religious interpretation and freedom of expression.

Six percent of the voters refused to cast ballots for Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, who was seeking a fourth six-year term. Election officials said Sunday's yes-or-no referendum marked the first time Mubarak has failed to win at least 95 percent of the votes cast. The Constitution does not provide for a direct presidential election. Mubarak was selected as the only candidate by the People's Assembly, or parliament, which his National Democratic Party dominates. Opposition groups had urged a boycott of the vote.

Casualties from multiple explosions at an illegal fireworks warehouse in central Mexico rose to 56 dead and 348 injured, authorities said. Many others were missing and believed trapped in a collapsed building. The first blast, in Celaya, 150 miles northwest of Mexico City, tore through an outdoor market crowded with people buying food for Sunday lunch. Three other explosions followed when flames reached a gas tank in a nearby restaurant.

(c) Copyright 1999. The Christian Science Publishing Society

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