News In Brief

Widely criticized for inaction in the Russian submarine crisis, President Vladimir Putin declared the rescue operation would continue "to the last moment" in the hope someone might yet be saved - although Russian officials admitted Saturday there was virtually no chance of rescuing any of the 118 crew members alive. Norwegian divers trying to get into the Kursk believe a man had been trapped in an air lock that apparently was full of water, Russian television said. The report followed one by a senior Russian official who said the rear escape hatch was so badly damaged that a British rescue minisub was unlikely to be able to dock.

Hopes for the imminent release of Western hostages in the Philippines dimmed, as their Muslim captors reneged on the agreed-upon plan and Libya, which brokered the deal, threatened to withdraw from negotiations. The mediators from the African state indicated they would disengage if there were no "tangible, positive developments" in two days. The hostages were supposed to have been released Saturday, but the Abu Sayyaf rebels objected to releasing all of them at once because of concerns the government would launch an attack after the handover. Three Malaysians were released, however, before the negotiations broke down.

Spain reeled from the latest suspected incident of Basque separatist violence, as two Civil Guard agents were killed in a bomb attack. The incident took place in the Spanish town of Sallent de Gallego, which is not in the Basque region, but circumstances had police still putting the blame on ETA guerrillas. Since ETA ended its cease-fire last December, it has been blamed for killing 11 people, four of them since July.

Mexicans called for an end to old-style political fiefdoms following a battle Friday between rival factions in the city of Chimalhuacan that killed at least 10 people. The incident erupted as hundreds gathered to inaugurate the city's new mayor, and gun-toting supporters of a longtime political boss known as the "She-Wolf" allegedly opened fire. More than 200 people were arrested, but police still were searching for the party chief, Guadalupe Buendia, an activist with the Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI) who controlled every corner of Chimalhuacan's government for years.

An estimated 15,000 people demonstrated in Oslo Saturday, police said, against a planned neo-Nazi march to commemorate the death of Adolf Hitler's right-hand man Rudolf Hess. The application by the right-wing extremist Boot Boys group to march in the capital had been turned down, but about 30 neo-Nazis, nevertheless, held a brief rally in the outlying town of Askim. German cities also saw activity in relation to Hess, with one of the largest antiright demonstrations taking place in the city of Hamburg.

An estimated 2 million people converged on Rome for World Youth Day, making it the largest gathering there in living memory. The event by the Roman Catholic Church concluded with a mass led by Pope John Paul II.

(c) Copyright 2000. The Christian Science Publishing Society

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