News In Brief

The first refugees in more than a week were allowed to leave Chechnya through checkpoints opened by Russian guards. But at the border with Ingushetia a crossing quickly closed again for reasons not immediately clear, as vehicles crammed with those hoping to flee the fighting backed up for miles. Loudspeakers told the refugees to come back again today. As many as 200,000 Chechens are thought to have sought refuge so far in Dagestan, Ingushetia, and Stavropol.

Trains, helicopters, and Navy ships loaded with food, clothing, and medical supplies were en route to India's Orissa state as relief efforts went into high gear following last Friday's devastating cyclone. But the help wasn't arriving soon enough to prevent rioting in the capital, Bhubaneswar, where people looted emergency vehicles in search of something to eat. Reliable damage assessments continued to be unavailable because the worst-hit areas were still cut off.

EgyptAir was under heavy criticism in Cairo because of the crash of Flight 990. Amid calls for an overhaul and privatization, a pro-government newspaper accused the carrier of shunning "modern developments." Critics recalled that another EgyptAir jet was hijacked two weeks ago en route to Cairo from Istanbul by a man using a pen as a weapon. The hijacker surrendered peacefully in Hamburg, Germany.

A fair trial for ousted Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif was promised by the country's new military ruler. But at his first news conference since seizing power Oct. 12, Gen. Pervaiz Musharraf did not reveal when such a trial would be held. He said documents being scrutinized by his hand-picked National Accountability Bureau indicated that because of alleged corruption in Sharif's government, "Never before have so few plundered so many." He repeated an earlier vow that the Army would rule until the corrupt were punished and economic renewal was complete.

A leading politician normally protected by the peacekeeping force in Kosovo was wounded as he answered a knock on the door of his apartment. Momcilo Trajkovic, who represents the province's dwindling Serb population, was unguarded late Sunday because he had asked for privacy in his Pristina home. A peacekeeping-force spokesman said two Albanian suspects were being sought.

A Nov. 14 runoff appeared necessary in Ukraine as near-final returns from Sunday's presidential election showed incumbent Leonid Kuchma wouldn't win the required 50 percent of the vote for a first-round victory. Kuchma, who faced a dozen challengers, was leading - but with 36 percent, to 22 percent for the nearest runnerup, Petro Symonenko of the Communist Party. Both were likely to seek alliances with distant finishers to improve their prospects.

As expected, a runoff will also be necessary in the presidential election in Ecuador, where final returns left front-runner Tabare Vazquez short of an absolute majority after Sunday's voting. Vazquez, the former mayor of Montivideo, won 38.5 percent of the ballots, to 31.3 for Jorge Batlle, the candidate of the ruling Colorado Party. The second round is scheduled for Nov. 28.

(c) Copyright 1999. The Christian Science Publishing Society

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