News In Brief

Security at Moscow subway stations and other public places was tightened in the wake of a bomb blast that killed seven people and injured at least 90, many seriously. Police announced they had detained two suspects in the case - one from Chechnya and the other from a nearby region, Dagestan. President Vladimir Putin, who took personal control of the investigation into the blast, warned against laying broad blame on ethnic minorities. But with many people already pointing a finger at Chechen rebels - who were blamed for a series of bombings last fall that killed some 300 people - Putin vowed to pursue relentlessly the war against the guerrillas. Chechen leader Aslan Maskhadov denied his forces were involved in the attack.

Bowing to pressure by Indonesian lawmakers unhappy with his performance, President Abdurrahman Wahid announced he would hand over day-to-day administration to his popular deputy but would remain in ultimate control. Megawati Sukarnoputri, the daughter of Indonesia's founding president, Sukarno, would be in charge of running Wahid's Cabinet, which he has promised to reshuffle.

Thousands of people held silent vigils outside town halls across Spain after a surge in violence that was blamed on the Basque separatist group ETA. Three car bombings - one of which was in Madrid - killed five people and injured 11 Monday and Tuesday. The attacks brought the number of deaths attributed to the ETA to eight since the group ended a 14-month cease-fire last December. Prime Minister Jos Maria Aznar vowed there would be no retreat from the government's hard-line stance against the separatists.

One thousand Lebanese soldiers and police moved south into the former Israeli-occupied zone, marking the first time the government asserted control over the border area since the mid-1970s. Eyewitnesses said 600 of the troops took up positions in Marjayoun, which had been used as headquarters by the Israeli-backed South Lebanon Army. Hizbullah guerrillas, who took control of the area following Israel's pullout May 24 but have pledged to cooperate with the Lebanese government, kept a low profile during the deployment. Many villagers greeted the soldiers with cheers.

A day after pressure from many sides forced the Sri Lankan government to put on hold a new constitution, Tamil rebels stepped up attacks on state security forces. Conflicting reports, each citing military sources, put the total killed between two and 13, and number injured between 33 and 45. Proposals in the new constitution would have devolved power to certain regions of the island in an attempt to end a 17-year civil war, but Tamil parties said the reforms didn't meet their political aspirations.

International human rights groups criticized Beijing for shutting down what they said was the first and only openly pro-democracy Web site based in China. The move came as the Communist Party - known for its campaign to weed out opposition on the Internet - acknowledged the Web was an important battleground for public opinion. The Communist flagship People's Daily newspaper urged the government to "seize the initiative" and use the Web to "create a good international image of China."

(c) Copyright 2000. The Christian Science Publishing Society

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