News In Brief

Special new US envoy William Burns was shuttling between meetings with the top leaders of Israel and the Palestinians in an intensive effort to end eight months of fighting in the West Bank and Gaza Strip. The two sides agreed to the resumption of discussions over security, perhaps later this week, but it was not clear what they might accomplish. A senior Palestinian said the talks also must include political issues; Israel has refused such discussions as long as the violence continues. Early in Burns's mission, two car bombs went off a block apart in downtown Jerusalem Sunday. No injuries were reported, but radical Palestinian groups claimed "more bombs and martyrs are on their way."

Pressure was not likely to be eased for the ouster of Indonesian President Abdurrahman Wahid, analysts said, despite a decision by the nation's attorney general clearing him of any wrongdoing in two financial scandals. The move came just two days before Wahid is due to respond formally to his second censure by parliament over the scandals. Over the weekend, he ordered a crackdown against his own supporters after thousands of them attacked a local office of his vice president's political party in East Java.

A massive police presence, coupled with rains, finally appeared to be quelling the worst racial violence in Britain in a decade. But streets in the industrial town of Oldham still were littered with broken glass from firebombed businesses and vehicles. At least 30 people were reported hurt; 37 others (one of them above) were under arrest. Tensions had been building in the former mill town since an attack on an elderly white man earlier this year by a gang of youths from South Asia.

An all-out assault was ordered by President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo against fast-moving Muslim rebels who kidnapped 20 tourists from a luxury resort in the southern Philippines. The strike by the Abu Sayyaf group was the second of its type in 13 months; last year 40 hostages were seized in an armed raid on a skin-diving resort in nearby southern Malaysia. More than a dozen were ransomed later for millions of dollars. But Arroyo vowed no ransom would be paid this time.

A late-night coup attempt by disgruntled soldiers in the Central African Republic was beaten back by troops loyal to President Ange-Felix Patasse, the government announced. "The whole situation" was under the army's control and Patasse was "safe and sound," a spokeswoman said, although three hours of fighting in the capital, Bangui, resulted in "many deaths." Sporadic gunfire still was being reported as the Monitor went to press.

Another major new defeat at the polls appeared in store for the party that ruled Mexico for 71 years but now is struggling to find ways to rebuild. Based on exit polling, the Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI) was expected to lose the governorship of Yucatan state to a candidate from President Vicente Fox's National Action Party.


(c) Copyright 2001. The Christian Science Monitor

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