News In Brief

Three villages held by ethnic Albanian guerrillas appeared to have been taken over by advancing Macedonian forces in the hills above Tetovo. But although senior government leaders said the assault was going according to plan, Albanian political leaders in neighboring Kosovo warned that the fighting "will take on a surprising magnitude" and called for international help "before the situation gets out of control." (Stories, page 6.)

Saying, "We are not talking about every youth who throws a stone," aides to Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon suggested that peace negotiations with the Palestinians could resume even without a complete end to violence in the West Bank and Gaza Strip. Meanwhile, as he prepared to meet the US-led fact-finding commission investigating the violence that has raged since last Sept. 28, Sharon refused to accept blame and said no one had the right to put Israel on trial for it.

More than 3,500 passengers spent an uncomfortable night aboard bullet trains as a powerful earthquake rocked western Japan. At least two people died in the magnitude-6.4 temblor; 174 others were reported hurt. The quake was felt across the Sea of Japan in South Korea. It destroyed or damaged at least 5,000 buildings and knocked out power and water to many others.

Three almost simultaneous car-bomb explosions in southern Russia killed 24 people and hurt 143 others in what appeared to be a new escalation of the Chechen conflict. Security officials said they found and defused three other bombs before they could go off. There were no immediate claims of responsibility for the blasts, and Chechen President Aslan Maskhadov denied any role in the attacks. But police said they blamed a rebel field commander for organizing them.

Despite a constitutional ban on more than two terms in office, the way appeared clear for Zambia's president to seek reelection after his party voted to alter its charter, allowing for a third try. The Movement for Multiparty Democracy (MMD) is to meet again next month to prepare an amendment to the Constitution under which Frederick Chiluba could pursue a third five-year term. With MMD members holding 137 of the 150 seats in parliament, such an amendment likely would pass with ease.

All 19 people aboard a commercial airliner and one person on the ground were killed when it hit a house short of the airport on the Caribbean island of St. Barthelemy. Another resident of the house was seriously hurt. Reports said landing conditions on the island are so difficult that special training is required for pilots who fly there.

(c) Copyright 2001. The Christian Science Monitor

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