News In Brief

"The soil of Lebanon will burn," Israel's foreign minister vowed, if Hizbullah guerrillas continue to rocket Jewish border settlements. David Levy appealed to Syria, the main foreign influence in Lebanon, to rein in Hizbullah. The movement's fighters have killed six Israeli soldiers in the so-called protection zone in southern Lebanon plus the No. 2 leader of Israel's proxy South Lebanon Army in the past two weeks. Israeli jets hit suspected Hizbullah positions again Wednesday, reportedly wounding four civilians.

A leading Catholic cleric offered his services to try to keep the peace in Northern Ireland on track as its self-rule coalition government neared suspension. Bishop Seamus Hegarty of Londonderry said he was prepared to assume safekeeping of "a quantity of weapons" belonging to the Irish Republican Army for a year while all concerned parties worked to resolve the issue threatening collapse of the joint Protestant- Catholic administration. The IRA's failure to surrender any weapons is believed likely to cause Britain to strip the administration of its powers tomorrow.

Police worked urgently to restore calm after the hijackers of an Afghan commercial jet discovered the plane's four-man flight crew had escaped to safety via a rope ladder. The daring move at Stansted Airport near London left no one aboard competent to fly the plane, which still held 150 hostages. In anger, the hijackers then shoved a flight attendant down the boarding steps, inflicting a head wound. Afghanistan's airline suggested the hijackers and some of the hostages were seeking political asylum, but British officials denied such a request had been made.

Officials returning to the university occupied for 9-1/2 months by Mexican students found buildings strewn with trash and garbage and walls covered with revolutionary slogans. Meanwhile, the turmoil caused by the police breakup of the strike at National Autonomous University last weekend was spilling onto other campuses in Mexico City. Faculty members and students at Metropolitan Autonomous University staged a walkout in support of those arrested, and the school's rector urged that the charges against the strikers be dropped.

A formal halt to their violent, 15-year struggle for autonomy was declared by the followers of Kurdish rebel chief Abdullah Ocalan. In a statement, the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) said it now will seek to achieve its aims "within the framework of peace and democracy." The move was another in a series by the PKK to transform itself into a political group that can negotiate with the Turkish government. But the latter has ignored earlier PKK efforts at moderation. Ocalan, on death row in a Turkish prison, was reelected as the PKK's leader and, the statement said, its new push for peace was "inseparable" from his fate.

Standing firm on the UN's demand for international control of a tribunal that would hear the cases of Khmer Rouge leaders, Secretary-General Kofi Annan rejected the latest proposal to try them in a Cambodian-dominated court. Annan said Premier Hun Sen's plan to allow perhaps only one foreign judge - who'd be required to ok all tribunal rulings - would almost certainly lead to an impasse.

(c) Copyright 2000. The Christian Science Publishing Society

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