News In Brief

The cease-fire against Israel called by Palestinian Authority leader Yasser Arafat will be ignored by the militant group Hamas, its senior leader said. Israelis, he added, will continue to be attacked "everywhere, by all means." His remarks were seen as setting back hopes that a lasting truce might lead to other peace efforts. Hamas has claimed responsibility for last Friday's suicide bomb attack in Tel Aviv that killed 20 people. (Related story, page 1.)

Worried tourists were trying to arrange passage out of Nepal as the kingdom entered the fourth day of crisis over the shooting deaths of most of the royal family. Streets in the capital, Kathmandu, were largely empty as a curfew was reimposed and extended to noon, giving police the power to shoot violators.

Demonstrating their defiance of President Abdurrahman Wahid, at least 8,000 Indonesian Army troops and police staged a rally in the capital in support of the commander he fired last weekend. Gen. Suroyo Bimantoro, who refuses to accept his dismissal, didn't attend. Wahid's political party accused Bimantoro of "treason" for failing to step down, but he is eligible for retirement next month and speculation centered on reassigning him to a new post.

Winding down his campaign for reelection, Iranian President Mohamad Khatami warned the nation's hard-line clergy it "must respect" the overwhelming demand for political and social reform he anticipates in Friday's vote. Responding to supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei's appeal for voters to "protect the revolution," Khatami called reforms "irreversible." Meanwhile, an office of his coalition in the city of Qom was firebombed, but aides denied rumors of an assassination attempt against him. (Opinion, page 21.)

A crisis in the eight-month-old ruling coalition in Yugoslavia appeared imminent as President Vojislav Kostunica's junior partner blocked a new law that would allow ex-ruler Slobodan Milosevic to be handed over to the UN war-crimes tribunal. The Socialist People's Party of Montenegro denied it was protecting Milosevic, who's under indictment by the tribunal. But it refused to "reduce the principled issue of extradition of our citizens" to the single case of Milosevic, with whom it once was allied. Without its votes, Kostunica can't win passage of the law in parliament. Adoption is viewed as vital to attracting major new international aid at a donor conference June 29.

A new demand by hostage-taking rebels in the southern Philippines for an independent Islamic state was rejected by the Manila government. President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo said there would be no compromise with the Abu Sayyaf movement, which is believed to be holding 59 hostages. She also expressed frustration at the Army's failure to "finish" the rebels, who killed two soldiers in the second clash in less than a week. (Story, page 7.)


(c) Copyright 2001. The Christian Science Monitor

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