THE MIDDLE EAST

Bomb Attack on Iranian Exiles Kills 7

BAGHDAD, Iraq -- A truck bomb attack yesterday against an armed Iranian exile organization opposed to the Tehran government killed seven people, including one Iraqi, and wounded more than 20 others, officials of the group said.

Officials of the Mujaheddin Khalq said four of its members died immediately and two more were in a hospital. All were traveling in a bus hit by the blast from a pickup truck loaded with explosives, the officials said.

It was the second attack this week against the Mujaheddin Khalq. On Sunday, the group said that two bombs exploded near its headquarters in Baghdad but caused no casualties.

Refugees Can Leave Egypt After 17 Years

JERUSALEM -- Some 1,500 Palestinian refugees stuck in Egypt since 1982 will be allowed to return to the self-ruled Gaza Strip over the next two years, Palestinian and Israeli officials announced.

The refugees are the last of 4,000 who became "victims of peace" when Egypt and Israel set up new borders in 1982 under the Camp David peace treaty.

ASIA

India Sends Reinforcements to Kashmir Fight

DRAS, India -- India moved reinforcements into the Himalayan battle zone of Kashmir as its warplanes pounded the mountain hideouts of Islamic militants along the disputed frontier with Pakistan.

Despite scheduled weekend talks between India and Pakistan to defuse the crisis, Indian jets continued attacking rebel bunkers in the craggy mountain peaks along a cease-fire line that divides Kashmir.

Pakistan said Foreign Minister Sartaj Aziz would go to Beijing to brief Chinese counterpart Tang Jiaxuan on the Kashmir situation before heading to India on Saturday for peace talks.

North, South Korean Vessels in Standoff

SEOUL -- North and South Korean navy vessels faced off in the Yellow Sea, as each country accused the other of intruding into its territorial waters.

South Korea dispatched a dozen patrol boats after North Korea sent six navy ships into "a buffer zone" just south of the border with North Korea early yesterday, the Defense Ministry said.

Two of the North Korean patrol ships left South Korean waters and returned to the North. The rest apparently were protecting 10 North Korean fishing boats, a Joint Chiefs of Staff official said.

THE AMERICAS

Reports Link Slain Mexican to Drug Lord

MEXICO CITY -- A Mexican game-show host cut down in a hail of bullets by professional hit men might have been a big-time cocaine dealer and a close friend of a top drug lord, newspapers reported.

One paper, Universal, said it was told by police sources that Francisco "Paco" Stanley, who was shot to death Monday, used to play pool with Amado Carrillo Fuentes, the late leader of the Juarez drug cartel.

Another paper, Reforma, said judicial sources speculated that Stanley had been killed by Carrillo Fuentes's successors because he was four months late paying for a $300,000 shipment of cocaine.

Sewer Explosion Feared in Honduran Capital

TEGUCIGALPA, Honduras -- The Honduran capital faces possible violent explosions due to massive obstructions in its sewage system, officials said.

The sewer network in Tegucigalpa, a city of more than 1 million people, has sustained severe cracks and mounting blockages caused by Hurricane Mitch, which devastated the impoverished country in October.

"We are racing against time to unblock the pipes before winter comes and the pipes and manholes overflow or explode," said Humberto Puerto, manager of the National Aqueduct and Sewerage Network Service. "There are tanks that are full of fecal matter and that could explode because of the gases being produced and the pressure of new fluids."

EUROPE

Pope Hints Polish Visit Could Be His Last

WIGRY, Poland -- Villagers who waited at a remote lakeside chapel in hopes of a surprise visit by Pope John Paul II got their wish, but many were in tears after the 79-year-old pontiff told them he may never be back.

"I'm not coming here for the first time," the Polish-born pontiff said, standing outside the 19th-century chapel that he used to kayak past before he left Poland for the Vatican in 1978. "But it's the first and perhaps the last time as the pope."

AFRICA

Mandela Says Goodbyes; ANC Gains Ally

PRETORIA, South Africa -- Nelson Mandela bade farewell to the ministers who have helped him lead South Africa from apartheid to democracy during his five years as president.

Meanwhile, Mandela's ruling African National Congress strengthened its hold on the government, forming an alliance that gives it a two-thirds majority in Parliament.

The Minority Front, which won one seat in last week's elections and is popular among the descendants of Indian immigrants, has allied itself with the ANC, according to news reports.

Rwandan Government Extends Rule 4 Years

KIGALI, Rwanda -- Rwanda's transitional government, formed in the aftermath of the country's 1994 genocide, has extended its mandate for another four years, officials said.

Charles Muligande, chairman of the Rwandan Patriotic Front, said the decision was made Tuesday at a meeting of the country's eight political parties.

In practice, there is no effective legal opposition to Rwanda's Tutsi-dominated government, which has all but stamped out a rebellion by ethnic Hutu extremists.

QUOTE OF THE DAY

"You've been there a very long time, and I've been here quite a long time. However, I have some very good news."

British Lt. Gen. Mike Jackson, announcing to reporters that NATO and Yugoslav military officials had reached agreement on ending the conflict in Kosovo -- Page A24