News In Brief

The "prompt and safe return" of 24 US Navy crewmen and their sophisticated surveillance plane was demanded by President Bush from a Chinese air base. The plane was forced into an emergency landing after a midair collision Sunday with a Chinese military jet. The final transmission from the US plane indicated that armed Chinese soldiers were boarding, unidentified sources said. US diplomats at the scene had yet to be granted access to the crewmen.

Acting on a hint by Israel's Army chief to expect more strikes against "those who commit acts of terrorism," helicopter gunships rocketed a truck in the Gaza Strip carrying a leading member of the militant Islamic Jihad group. Mohammed Abdel Al, who allegedly planned bombing attacks against Israelis, died in the assault. The Bush administration has criticized Israel's policy of targeting specific militants for death, and Monday's attack was the first of its type since new Prime Minister Ariel Sharon assumed office.

Efforts at reunification of the two Koreas appeared to be faltering as the North pulled out of negotiations over a new set of get-togethers for families divided by the peninsula's half-century-old conflict. An editorial in an official North Korean daily urged the South to join in a united front against the new US administration. Last month, the North boycotted a high-level meeting on reunification and backed out of plans to field a joint table tennis team for a championship tournament.

"All-out war" on a band of Muslim extremists in the southern Philippines was ordered by President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo after it vowed to behead an American hostage on her birthday, Thursday. Jeffrey Schilling of Oakland, Calif., has been held by the Abu Sayyaf group since last August. The group demands $10 million for his release. Last year, on the birthday of Arroyo's predecessor, it beheaded two Filipino hostages.

Only a court's intervention kept the sole independent TV station in Russia from being taken over by the state. A district judge in Moscow barred the government-owned utility Gazprom from convening a meeting today of NTV shareholders so it could orchestrate the firing of the station's managers and replace them with its own. Gazprom, which owns 46 percent of NTV stock, says it is owed millions of dollars in loans.

As many as 100 people may have been killed in a two-bus accident in southeastern Kenya, reports said. At least 22 others were hurt when the vehicles fell into the Sabaki River and became submerged. The buses collided when one swerved to avoid a Land Rover that was parked on a bridge while its occupants snapped photographs.

(c) Copyright 2001. The Christian Science Monitor

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