News In Brief

The winners of last week's crucial election in Serbia wasted no time in purging senior military chiefs in Slobodan Milosevic's regime from their posts and pledging to put the hard-line ex-president himself on trial "for all the terrible things he has done" in his 13 years in power. But leaders of the Democratic Opposition of Serbia gave no hint that they might extradite Milosevic to The Hague, where he is under indictment by a UN war crimes tribunal for atrocities committed by his troops last year in Kosovo.

Construction materials for renovations to a shopping center in central China may have blocked escape routes as a Christmas night fire swept through the complex, killing at least 309 people, reports said. Most of the casualties came in a fourth-floor disco popular with young people, where low lighting levels and loud dance music may have masked the danger. The complex, in Luoyang, recently had been declared a safety hazard.

Eighteen thousand police and Army troops were on guard against possible new sectarian attacks in Indonesia in the wake of Christmas Eve bomb explosions that killed at least 15 church-goers in eight cities. Dozens of others were hurt. There was no immediate claim of responsibility. Authorities asked Muslims, whose Rama-dan holy month was ending, to refrain from the customary rowdy celebrations.

Radio contact with the unmanned Mir space station was reestablished, Russian controllers said, after acknowledging they'd lost the linkup for almost 20 hours. There was no word on what might have led to the malfunction, but officials said the situation onboard was "normal" and that the craft was not in danger of plunging to Earth. The 15-year-old station is scheduled for a controlled descent in late February.

Voters were preparing to return to the polls in Ghana for a runoff election that will determine the successor to 19-year President Jerry Rawlings. Tomorrow's balloting pits opposition leader John Kufuor, who took 49 percent of the vote in the Dec. 7 first round, against Vice President John Atta Mills. Mills won 45 percent, but three of the five other candidates in the original balloting have since thrown their support to Kufuor.

The leading candidate to become the next prime minister of Thailand was vowing to remain in the race despite a finding that he was guilty of financial wrongdoing in 1997. Thaksin Shina-watra, a media magnate, would be banned from public office for five years if the Constitutional Court in Bangkok agrees with the finding by the National Counter-Corruption Commission. Opinion polls show Thaksin and his Thai Rak Thai Party with a sizable lead over incumbent Prime Minister Chuan Leekpai's Democrat Party for the Jan. 6 election.

(c) Copyright 2000. The Christian Science Publishing Society

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