News In Brief

"There's no place left for us to bomb," a Russian military spokesman said after his troops claimed the capture of the last "populated point" in southern Chechnya. Shatoi is the gateway to the mountains where as many as 4,000 Islamic guerrillas are believed to be camped. But analysts said Shatoi's rebel defenders were likely to regroup for a counteroffensive and that hit-and-run attacks in other captured towns would have to be guarded against. Meanwhile, a controversial journalist returned to Moscow six weeks after being traded to the rebels for captured soldiers. Andrei Babitsky's reports angered the Kremlin, but the trade brought a chorus of international protests.

Critics and neighboring governments in Europe detected ulterior motives in the resignation of controversial Austrian politician Jrg Haider from the leadership of his ultraright political party. Haider said he wanted to ease the way for the coalition government in Vienna, which has been under protest since his Freedom Party became a partner early last month. But he will remain a provincial governor and is suspected of making the move to better his prospects for a future run at Austria's chancellorship.

An apology for "the sins that have happened in the past" was offered by new Indonesian President Abdurrahman Wahid on his first state visit to East Timor. Wahid said the hundreds of people who died in the independence effort there were "victims of circumstances we didn't want." Criminal charges are being prepared against military officers and anti-independence militiamen for the human rights abuses that preceded Indonesia's withdrawal in October.

The union of white farmers in Zimbabwe was urging its members not to be "confrontational" amid reports that the number of invasions of their land by armed black squatters had risen to at least 26. Police were ignoring appeals for help, calling the situation "a political issue." The invasions were blamed on the defeat in last month's national referendum of a proposed new constitution that would have empowered the government to seize white farms without compensation and turn them over to landless blacks.

The first runoff election for president appeared likely in Senegal. Neither incumbent Abdou Diouf nor his main challenger, opposition leader Abdoulaye Wade, would win a majority of votes from last week- end's first round of balloting, an Interior Ministry source said. Wade warned Diouf not to declare himself the victor or "there will be clashes and violence."

Twenty-eight unshielded casks of nuclear weapons-grade strontium 90 were seized by police in the Donetsky region of Ukraine. The material, believed stolen from military facilities, was found in the homes of would-be smugglers, exposing them and their families to 3,000 times the normal level of radiation, reports said. The suspects also admitted carrying the casks on public transportation.

(c) Copyright 2000. The Christian Science Publishing Society

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