News In Brief

The first heavily armed clash in the West Bank in months killed three Israeli soldiers and left another wounded - although possibly from friendly fire, the Army said. The incident happened as Israeli troops were on a manhunt for Mahmoud Abu Hanoud, a leader of the Islamic militant group Hamas. Hanoud, who is blamed for the deaths of at least 21 Israelis in suicide bombings in 1997, escaped with injuries and then gave himself up to the Palestinian Authority. A second militant was captured by the troops. Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak said his government was likely to request Abu Hanoud's extradition, but Palestinian sources indicated they'd resist that.

The Zimbabwean government backed down from police action that resulted in black squatters being evicted from some white-owned farms last week. President Robert Mugabe, who previously has overturned orders that would have taken action against squatters, made the most recent reversal after a protest outside his offices by blacks. Underscoring its support for confiscating white-owned farms to resettle blacks, the government named Friday another 509 farms it is targeting for that program - bringing the total number to 1,542.

A roadside standoff between Myanmar (Burma) authorities and a key opposition leader stretched into a fourth day, eliciting international condemnation of the treatment of Aung San Suu Kyi. The Nobel peace laureate tried to leave the capital, Yangon, for the first time in two years Thursday, at which point police stopped her car in the suburb of Dala, and the country's military junta claimed it wasn't safe for her to travel further. Twelve supporters of Suu Kyi also were part of the standoff. Her National League for Democracy party won elections in May 1990 by a landslide but has never been allowed to govern.

Five hostages held by Muslim rebels in the Philippines were released, but seven other Westerners - some of whom were relatives of those freed - were still in captivity. Negotiators, who said the releases came after Libya agreed to pay a $1 million ransom for each hostage, expressed hope that the remaining captives could be freed in about a week.

Olympics officials expressed confidence in their security preparations for the Summer Games in Sydney, Australia, next month, despite evidence of an attack plan involving a nuclear reactor in the city. The plan was uncovered in March - although just reported on over the weekend - while police in Auckland, New Zealand, were investigating an organized crime ring with links to Afghanistan. The Australian government said the reactor won't be closed during the games because the plot didn't amount to a credible threat.

Efforts were stepped up to secure the release of 11 British soldiers in Sierra Leone who were being held by a renegade faction of rebels known as the West Side Boys, a military source said. The soldiers, who were training a force of government troops, went missing Friday near the capital, Freetown.

(c) Copyright 2000. The Christian Science Publishing Society

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