ASIA

India Steps Up Attack on Kashmir Peak

DRAS, India -- Indian soldiers pounded a strategic Himalayan peak with artillery today as Indian soldiers pressed forward to seize the promontory from Islamic guerrillas near the Pakistan frontier.

Just after sundown yesterday, thousands of Indian shells began to rain down on the cloud-shrouded 16,500-foot Tiger Hill, which overlooks a national highway, a lifeline for northern Kashmir. Four Indian soldiers were reported killed.

President Clinton, concerned about the Kashmir situation, will meet with Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif today in Washington, the White House said. The meeting was arranged after Clinton spoke by telephone with Sharif and Indian Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee.

Rogue Trader Released From Prison

SINGAPORE -- Rogue trader Nicholas Leeson walked out of a Singapore prison yesterday, four years after bringing down Britain's oldest commercial bank and sending shock waves through Asia's giddy financial world.

Leeson spent nearly 3 1/2 years at Tanah Merah prison, convicted of fraudulently hiding $1.4 billion in losses at Barings Bank. The former trader, whose hair was noticeably thinning, underwent colon cancer surgery during his prison term, which was reduced by three years because of good behavior. Authorities said his cancer was in remission.

East Timor Militias Protest Refugees' Return

DILI, Indonesia -- East Timorese militias favoring integration with Indonesia protested the return of pro-independence refugees who fled their homes amid recent violence.

The island territory has been wracked by fighting between rival militias ahead of a referendum in which Timorese will choose whether to remain part of Indonesia as an autonomous province or break away completely.

Pro-independence and pro-Indonesian militias signed a peace deal in June promising an end to the violence, but tensions still remain. The United Nations had scheduled the ballot for Aug. 8 but postponed it for two weeks because of security fears and logistical problems.

AFRICA

Zambia Hosts Congo Cease-Fire Talks

LUSAKA, Zambia -- The warring parties in Congo met with Zambian mediators to iron out details of a cease-fire agreement in the 11-month civil war that has threatened stability in Central Africa.

The meeting of officials at the Zambian Foreign Ministry building was to be followed by a gathering of regional defense and foreign ministers to endorse concessions on several key points, Zambian mediators said.

THE AMERICAS

Caribbean States Move for Supreme Court

PORT-OF-SPAIN, Trinidad -- Eager to wield capital punishment as a weapon against crime, Caribbean leaders are set to create a regional supreme court and sever colonial ties to Britain's legal system.

At a summit starting today, leaders from the 15-member Caribbean Community trade bloc intend to establish a Caribbean Court of Justice to replace the London-based Privy Council. The Privy Council, a colonial legacy located half a world away, is the court of final appeal for the Caribbean's former British colonies.

And in the eyes of many Caribbean leaders, it stands in the way of greater use of the death penalty, which they and many in the public see as key to fighting the violent Caribbean drug trade.

Mexican State Anticipates Close Election

TOLUCA, Mexico -- Mexico's most populous state braced for a closely fought governor's election, with the outgoing state leader calling for even the narrowest margin of victory to be respected.

The central state of Mexico, with 12.7 million residents and some 7.1 million eligible voters, elects a governor today in what pollsters say could be a photo finish between candidates from the ruling Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI) and the conservative National Action Party (PAN).

The race has been billed as an crucial barometer of voter sentiment heading into presidential elections in 2000. The PRI's candidate, Arturo Montiel, a 55-year-old former federal congressman and longtime party activist, rejected claims that his campaign had used illegal or unethical tactics. He said the claims were an opposition-led attempt at justifying their possible loss.

THE MIDDLE EAST

Experts to Assess Iraqi Factory Rebuilding

DAURA, Iraq -- The U.N. Security Council has agreed yesterday to send a team of experts July 15 to assess whether a vaccine factory here ordered destroyed by U.N. weapons inspectors should be reconstructed, an official for the world body said.

U.N. arms inspectors had the factory's equipment destroyed in 1996 after concluding Iraq had used the facility for the production of biological weapons. However, the loss of the factory's vaccine-making capability meant the country was ill prepared to handle an outbreak of hoof-and-mouth disease last year, which infected at least 1 million farm animals. At least 400,000 animals have died for lack of the vaccine.

EUROPE

Ocalan Verdict Spurs Violence in Germany

FRANKFURT, Germany -- A Turkish mosque and two offices in Germany were firebombed in further violence thought to be linked to the death sentence against Kurdish rebel leader Abdullah Ocalan.

No one was injured in the latest arson attacks, all in western Germany. The most serious incident was in Singen, near the Swiss border, where police reported a firebomb tossed into a prayer room at a Turkish mosque caused $2,600 in damage.

Tensions between Germany's 500,000 Kurds and 1.5 million Turks have grown since Ocalan's arrest in February. The rebel leader was sentenced to death Tuesday by a Turkish court for leading a 15-year guerrilla war for an autonomous Kurdish homeland in southeastern Turkey.

Quote Of The Day:

"Hunting is like a ripe apple I pick from the tree in my garden. Taking a duck or a rabbit is like that."

--Jacques des Brosses, a grain farmer and pony breeder in Chennebrun, 130 miles west of Paris, who leads the CPNT party.