News In Brief

The latest target of hard-line conservatives in Iran, President Mohamad Khatami's brother, was officially notified that his newspaper broke "the executive regulations of the press law." The Press Court warned Mohammed Reza Khatami that "necessary actions" would be taken against him and the daily Mosharekat if the violations continued. It is one of two pro-democracy papers not yet shut down by the fundamentalist clerics opposed to Mohamad Khatami's reform agenda; 13 others were banned earlier this week. Mosharekat was singled out for printing extra editions to meet public demand after the other dailies were forced to stop.

Two people taken at gunpoint at a Malaysian resort Sunday are to be freed by their Muslim rebel captors because they also are Islamic, a communiqu said. But the Abu Sayyaf group demanded a ransom of $2.4 million to release 19 others also seized in its raid. All now are believed to be in the nearby southern Philippines, where the rebels are fighting for an independent Islamic state. In a related action, the group is under attack by Filipino troops trying to free 27 hostages seized at local schools last month.

Only two-thirds of the usual supply of leaf tobacco, Zimbabwe's No. 1 income source, was on hand for the opening of the crucial auction season. Growers produced a record crop this year, but the seizures of white-owned farms by armed black squatters were keeping the balance from reaching market. Tobacco accounts for 20 percent of the gross domestic product, and analysts said international buyers might well turn to rival Brazil.

Western-sponsored "state terror" is responsible for the assassination of Yugoslavia's airline director, the government in Belgrade alleged. Zika Petrovic, shot on a downtown street, was a friend and ally of President Slobodan Milosevic. Two unidentified attackers were seen fleeing the scene. Petrovic was the third high-profile figure murdered in the capital since the year began. Milosevic's defense minister, Pavle Bulatovic, was shot in a restaurant in February, and paramilitary chief Zelijko Raznatovic died in a hotel lobby in January.

Only two of the 13 candidates for president of Turkey are believed to have much hope of victory when parliament votes today on a successor to Suleyman Demirel. Senior Constitutional Court Justice Ahmet Necdet Sezer will need 367 of a possible 550 votes to avoid a runoff with parliament Speaker and ex-Prime Minister Yildirim Akbulut. Sezer, an outspoken advocate of democratic reforms, is the compromise choice of Prime Minister Bulent Ecevit. Earlier this month, parliament defeated Ecevit's attempt to amend the Constitution, which would have allowed Demirel to seek reelection.

The most powerful narcotics cartel in Mexico increasingly is turning to torture before murdering its victims in an all-out fight for survival, authorities said. The Tijuana-based operation of the Arellano Felix ring is blamed for the deaths of three antidrug agents, whose remains were found April 12. It's also suspected of killing Tijuana's police commander in late February. The cartel, in its 15th year, has outlasted most other Mexican rings. But among other recent setbacks, its finance chief was arrested last month.

(c) Copyright 2000. The Christian Science Publishing Society

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