News In Brief

Combat operations by russian troops in Chechnya "are already under way," Prime Minister Vladimir Putin announced. Reports quoted him as saying Russian units were focusing on high ground inside the common border, although not via a full-scale ground invasion. Chechen defense chief Magomed Khambiyev warned that his forces would respond in ways that included attacks "on the territory of Russia."

A protest march, advertised as peaceful by its organizers, turned violent in the Yugoslav capital, Belgrade, late Wednesday. At least 60 people were hurt when police charged the gathering on a street leading to the neighborhood where President Slobodan Milosevic lives. Police called the estimated 25,000 marchers "hooligans, drug addicts, and known troublemakers" and said three of their officers were among the injured.

All access to the center of Beijing was sealed off in preparation for today's 50th anniversary celebration of Communist Party rule. Only invited guests were to be allowed to attend the most prestigious events, a military parade and an evening of dancing and entertainment. But even residents of the capital unable to watch the festivities in person were ordered to display the Chinese flag. In faraway Tibet, people were required to take part in local National Day ceremonies or face cuts in their pay or pensions, reports said.

A blue-ribbon task force was assigned to investigate an "unprecedented" nuclear-power accident that released 10,000 times higher than normal levels of radiation in a uranium-processing plant near Tokyo. The accident hospitalized three workers, two of whom were said to be in critical condition. Residents of the area immediately around the plant in Tokai- mura, 70 miles northeast of the capital, were evacuated as a precaution. Public confidence in nuclear power already is low in Japan because of earlier accidents.

A new confrontation over East Timor was developing between the governments of Indonesia and Australia. The latter claimed the right of UN peacekeepers to cross the dividing line into West Timor in pursuit of warring anti-independence militiamen. Indonesian defense officials said no UN troops could cross without prior permission. But after meeting with President B.J. Habibie and Gen. Wiranto, the armed forces chief, visiting US Defense Secretary Cohen said he believed "they are committed to the success of the peacekeeping mission."

Homosexuality took its second hit from a major African head of state in less than a week, as Kenyan President Daniel arap Moi called it a "scourge" and a "dangerous practice" that he would not hesitate to attack. Moi said he'd warn Kenyans that the practice goes against biblical teachings as well as African traditions. On Tuesday, Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni ordered the arrest of openly homosexual people.

Gnter Grass became the fifth straight European to win the prestigious Nobel Prize in Literature.The German novelist's 1959 book "The Tin Drum" is his most famous novel, although the prize was conferred for the entire body of his writing.

(c) Copyright 1999. The Christian Science Publishing Society

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