News In Brief

Conditions in Sierra Leone took a major turn for the worse as rebels guarding the home of their leader fired into a crowd of protesters, killing at least four people. Fifteen others were reported hurt. The violence began when thousands of marchers headed for a rally to denounce Foday Sankoh's Revolutionary United Front changed course and headed for his house in Freetown, the capital, throwing stones. Meanwhile, Britain announced the immediate deployment of hundreds of troops who were standing by in neighboring Senegal to help evacuate British nationals if necessary.

A young male bank employee was arrested in Manila and his girlfriend promised to turn herself in later as investigators closed in on the suspected perpetrators of the "I love you" computer virus, the world's most virulent to date. Police, accompanied by FBI agents from the US, seized computer equipment and other materials at the apartment the couple shared. But reports said no law had yet been found under which the suspects could be charged, since computer hacking isn't a crime in the Philippines.

Another white farmer died of his wounds after being beaten by suspected black squatters who had taken over his land in Zimbabwe, and - in an apparent new turn - a black man claimed from a hospital bed that he'd been run down by a car and then kicked by its white occupants. It was not immediately clear what impact the latter report would have. President Robert Mugabe repeatedly has warned whites not to retaliate for the seizures of their land. Meanwhile, the leader of the farm-takeover movement said he was tired of waiting for Mugabe to distribute white-owned land to blacks and would set up a committee to do so himself.

A temporary cease-fire offered by Tamil rebels in Sri Lanka to allow for the evacuation of government troops from the besieged city of Jaffna will be rejected, a senior official said. The government has said it is prepared to fight to hold on to the strategic city, even though the rebels claim to control transportation access. In a related development, Indian Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee said his government would work for a peaceful settlement of the Sri Lanka conflict but would not send troops to support the island's hard-pressed Army.

The leader of the separatist movement in Quebec vowed to "go back on the offensive" and push harder than ever for independence from English-speaking Canada after a convention of his political party. Premier Lucien Bouchard, armed with an overwhelming new vote of confidence as chief of the Parti Quebecois, didn't set a date for a new referendum on seceding. But other party sources said it could come within two years. Previous votes went down to defeat in 1980 and 1995.

(c) Copyright 2000. The Christian Science Publishing Society

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