News In Brief

Tens of thousands of anti-US and antiglobalization activists gathered in Sweden to protest President Bush's visit and summit with European Union leaders. They are riled by the US rejection of the Kyoto protocol on climate change and the president's proposed missile defense system. Rioters were expected to outnumber police by 25 to 1, and several groups had threatened to storm the summit. Bush is to wrap-up his five-nation tour this weekend.

A panel investigating the June 1 massacre of Nepal's royal family massacre officially placed blame on Crown Prince Dipendra. The panel concluded that Dipendra was intoxicated when he carried out the shootings and then fatally shot himself. The previous explanation called the incident "accidental," though it was widely suspected the crown prince was to blame.

Syrian troops began withdrawing from Beirut and surrounding areas in an apparent concession to a Christian-led campaign to ease the grip Damascus has on its neighbor. The sudden redeployment of some of its 35,000 troops followed agitation against Syria's 26-year-long military presence. Redeployment will occur in five Christian areas where the presidential palace and Army headquarters are located.

Macedonia officials appealed to NATO to help disarm ethnic Albanian guerrillas, while pledging for the first time to discuss Albanian demands to change the Constitution. As fighting flared in the northwest, NATO Secretary-General George Robertson and EU foreign policy chief Javier Solana emerged from intensive meetings with President Boris Trajkovski with proposals to crack the four-month crisis. But the government rejected a rival plan calling for a general amnesty, a place for the insurgents in reform talks, and the opportunity to join the Army and police. There are no immediate plans for NATO-led peacekeepers to be deployed in Macedonia, Robertson said.

Riot police fired tear gas at hundreds of thousands of Algerian protesters trying to enter President Abdelaziz Bouteflika's compound during a "march for democracy." Dozens of people were reported hurt, at least one of them seriously. The incident was another in a series sparked by almost two months of violent unrest in the Berber region of Kabyle over authorities' handling of riots in April and May. Protesters, organized by the Berber minority, carried signs denouncing injustice and abuse of power. Berbers have long had tense relations with the government.

The Philippine government halted all attempts to negotiate with Muslim extremists holding more than two dozen hostages and declared an "all-out war" to hunt the insurgents down. Meanwhile, there was still no confirmation that the guerrillas carried out their threat to kill Californian Guillermo Sobero, one of three American hostages. The group also holds about 25 Filipinos captured in three raids over the last 2-1/2 weeks.

(c) Copyright 2001. The Christian Science Monitor

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