News In Brief

Three people died and more than 350 others were hurt in the worst violence between Israeli security forces and Palestinians since mid-1996. It came despite a move by Israel's Cabinet to improve the atmosphere for peace negotiations by transferring three suburban Jerusa-lem villages to Palestinian control. It was not immediately clear what sparked the clashes. Palestinians always mark the anniversary of the 1948 declaration of Israel as an independent state with protests, but their leaders had been expected to control them so as not to damage the current round of talks taking place in Sweden.

Rebel forces freed 139 of the estimated 500 UN peacekeepers being held hostage in Sierra Leone, and the leader of neighboring Liberia said he was trying to obtain the release of the rest. Meanwhile, the rebels appeared to be in a general retreat after last week's gains. The capital, Freetown, was said to be under secure guard, partly by well-armed British troops, and CNN was showing footage of pro-government forces in firm control of a key crossroads town retaken in five hours of fighting over the weekend.

Another farmer died at the hands of armed black squatters in Zimbabwe who had taken over his land - the fourth white person killed to date and the 20th overall in ongoing political violence. The problem was expected to be the main point of discussion between President Robert Mugabe and European Union and Commonwealth representatives, who arrived to prepare the ground for independent monitors in Zimbabwe's parliamentary elections, which Mugabe must hold by August.

The handpicked candidate of President Leonel Fernandez may be headed for no better than a share of second place in the Dominican Republic, as voters today choose a new chief of state. Danilo Medina, the nominee of the ruling Liberation Party, has been unable to capitalize on the booming economy under the outgoing Fernandez, who's barred from serving consecutive terms. The race, opinion polls show, has been led by populist Hipolito Mejia of the leftist Revolutionary Party, although perhaps not by enough to win outright in the first round of balloting. Also in contention: Joaquin Balaguer, who, although blind and in his 90s, is seeking an eighth term.

Foreign journalists and the US Embassy were stoned by demonstrators as a crowd estimated as large as 200,000 Ethiopians vented their anger at a UN resolution condemning their government's war with neighboring Eritrea. The resolution, backed by the Clinton administration and Britain, gives the two sides until today to stop fighting or face an arms embargo. A Security Council delegation last week failed to lure them into face-to-face negotiations.

An armed intruder who held 25 children and 10 adult staffers hostage inside a nursery school in Norway had freed all but seven and was demanding to talk with a lawyer as the Monitor went to press. The gunman was believed to be the father of one of the children at the facility in Hjemmeland, 185 miles west of Oslo, the capital.

(c) Copyright 2000. The Christian Science Publishing Society

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