With a 30-day time limit ahead of them, the first planeloads of NATO troops were to take off for Macedonia to collect and destroy the weapons of ethnic-Albanian insurgents. But the number of guns in insurgent hands remained unknown; tens of thousands of them may have come from neighboring Albania after being stolen when the country slid into political chaos in 1997. (Story, page 7; editorial, page 10.)

All 20 of reformist President Mohamad Khatami's nominees for cabinet positions were confirmed by Iran's parliament, reflecting his mandate from a landslide reelection victory in June. The approvals came despite criticism from reformers that his choices lack the will to push significant change, and from hard-liners who consider them too liberal.

The 21 white farmers arrested earlier this month in Zimbabwe for clashing with militant black squatters were freed on bail (below). But they were ordered not to return to the province, where many of their homes have been looted and burned by the squatters. Meanwhile, the government was to slaughter at least 7,000 head of cattle to try to contain the spread of foot-and-mouth disease. The outbreak was blamed on the removal of farm fences by squatters, allowing cows to mingle with wild animals.

In Phase One of a government crackdown, more than 200 Pakistani militants from groups fighting Indian rule in Kashmir were arrested in Karachi. Police said they'd defied a new law against public fund-raising for "holy war" purposes and banners promoting sectarian violence. Further raids were promised. But angry militants vowed to resist, accusing the government of bowing to Western pressure to back away from Kashmir, where India accuses it of secretly supporting a 12-year Muslim insurgency. (Story, page 7.)

The collection and transfusion of blood under unsanitary conditions was admitted by Chinese authorities, who said it was partially responsible for the spread of AIDS that could reach epidemic proportions. But medical experts said the number of confirmed cases still was relatively small, even in Henan province, where tests in one village found 65 percent of residents had the disease or were HIV-positive. Independent researchers who have studied Henan, however, estimate as many as 1 million people may have contracted AIDS from tainted blood there.

Tokyo was returning to normal after tropical storm Pabuk swept through central Japan. The typhoon was blamed for at least seven deaths and forced 50,000 people to evacuate their homes.

Compiled from wire service reports by Robert Kilborn, Stephanie Cook, and Matthew

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