News In Brief

Two attackers shot and seriously wounded a prominent Iranian newspaper editor and political ally of President Mohamad Khatami. Saeed Hajarian was in critical condition in a Tehran hospital after being hit from close range. A manhunt was on for the assailants, who escaped on a motorcycle. Hajarian had received written threats from hard-line extremists, associates said, probably because of his advocacy of a reformist agenda. The hard-liners were soundly defeated last month in parliamentary elections. But on Saturday, a supervisory council said it was voiding the results of at least five races won by reformers. (Story, page 7.)

Attitudes were expected to harden toward Sri Lanka's Tamil rebel movement in the aftermath of a bold ambush attempt that backfired Friday in the capital, Colombo. At least 28 people died, 14 of them civilians, in a shootout when a Tamil guerrilla was spotted before he could help attack a motorcade of government and military leaders. Four other rebel suspects killed themselves early Saturday to avoid capture.

Saying, "We want the whites to learn that the land belongs to Zimbabweans," President Robert Mugabe countermanded an order by his own home affairs minister for black squatters to leave more than 400 farms they've occupied in recent weeks. Mugabe said the squatters could remain as long as they were peaceful. He reportedly told a meeting of tribal chiefs Friday that his government would discuss with the squatters how to divide the occupied land into plots for resettling landless black peasants.

Another plume of pollution from a Romanian gold mine was flowing into the same river contaminated last month by a spill of cyanide. Experts said 20,000 tons of heavy metal residues testing at twice the legal limit had reached the upper Tisza River, a stretch unaffected by the earlier incident. The latest spill followed the collapse of a dam holding back mining waste water. The Romanian government threatened to close any mine that does not follow safety regulations.

The flag of Ukraine was flying at half-staff in memory of 81 workers who died when coal dust and methane gas exploded in their mine Saturday. Seven others were hurt in the blast 2,180 feet underground, the worst accident since the former Soviet republic achieved independence in 1991.

A death threat from leftist rebels drove one of Columbia's leading journalists into exile. Conflicting reports said Francisco Santos, chief editor of El Tiempo, the country's bestselling newspaper, now was in the US and an unidentified European location. His departure came four days after another prominent newsman, Fernando Gonzalez-Pacheco, said leftist threats were intimidating him to leave Colombia.

The former leftist rebels in El Salvador hoped to become the dominant party in congressional elections yesterday. If successful, the FMLN (Faribundo Mart National Liberation Front) would reverse its stinging defeat in last year's presidential election by right-wing candidate Francisco Flores. But Flores's ARENA alliance has steadily lost seats in the one-house Congress since 1994 and continues in power through a coalition with small rightist and centrist parties.

An estimated half-million fundamentalists and women's groups held noisy but peaceful counterdemonstrations in two Moroccan cities on the government's controversial plan to give females more rights. Among other features, the plan would replace the practice of repudiation by husbands with court divorces, awarding wives an equal share of money and property.

(c) Copyright 2000. The Christian Science Publishing Society

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