EUROPE

Throngs Gather in Anticipation of Eclipse

LAND'S END, England -- Preparations reached a feverish pace across Europe and Asia yesterday in the final countdown to the last solar eclipse before the millennium.

In the English county of Cornwall, 7,500 people were arriving every hour, undeterred by gloomy weather reports. In Romania, NASA experts and dozens of American astronomers gathered for a long glimpse of the eclipse. And in Milan, residents were filling out lottery forms hoping 1, 6 and 71 would prove to be their lucky numbers; according to centuries-old codes, 1 stands for the sun, 6 for the moon and 71 for the earth.

The total eclipse, which will first be viewed off the coast of Nova Scotia at 6:23 a.m. local time (5:23 a.m. EDT), will travel at about 1,500 mph across the Atlantic and will hit Cornwall just after 11 a.m. local time (6 a.m. EDT). It will then race across Europe and the Middle East before ending in the Bay of Bengal.

Netherlands Moves to Legalize Euthanasia

AMSTERDAM -- The Dutch government published plans to legalize euthanasia under strict guidelines, which would allow children as young as 12 to demand and receive it. The plans are expected to gain parliamentary approval next year, which would make the Netherlands the first country to legalize the practice.

Under the new law, which would formalize practices already widely accepted and carried out in the Netherlands, euthanasia and physician-assisted suicide would be legal only if carried out under strict guidelines. Doctors judged not to have adhered to the guidelines still would face prosecution and a maximum 12-year jail term.

Mass Grave Yields 250 Bodies at Srebrenica

SARAJEVO, Bosnia -- Forensic experts, reconstructing a 1995 massacre in the Bosnian enclave of Srebrenica, have finished exhuming about 250 bodies from a mass grave, U.N. officials said.

U.N. spokeswoman Kelly Moore said it was the largest such site unearthed so far in connection with the investigation into the reported massacre of thousands of Bosnian Muslim men after Bosnian Serb forces captured the town in July 1995. More than 7,000 Muslim men are believed to have been systematically executed. So far, some 2,000 bodies have been found.

THE AMERICAS

Jamaican Forces Kill 7 in Crime Crackdown

KINGSTON, Jamaica -- Jamaican security forces killed seven men in 10 hours, police said. The shootings came amid a wave of violent crime in the capital and a campaign by the government to crack down on the problem.

In the first incident late Monday, a joint police-military patrol shot three men in Portmore, just outside the capital, following a series of robberies in the area, the Police Information Center said.

In the second incident, police fatally shot four men early yesterday in a confrontation in Nightingale Grove, St. Catherine.

The recent crime wave has prompted residents to flee and businesses to close in some parts of Kingston. In June, 83 people were slain, and another 67 were killed in July, police said.

AFRICA

Rebels Free Last Hostages in Sierra Leone

FREETOWN, Sierra Leone -- A nearly week-long hostage crisis ended when former junta soldiers freed their remaining prisoners after receiving assurances they would not be prosecuted, a top government official said. The rogue rebels released 15 West African intervention force soldiers and a U.N. military observer, along with 200 civilians taken prisoner during Sierra Leone's eight-year civil war, Information Minister Julius Spencer said at a news conference.

Congo Accuses Rebels of Breaking Cease-Fire

KINSHASA, Congo -- Congo's Defense Ministry accused rebels backed by Rwanda and Uganda of breaking a cease-fire and shelling government positions in the north and east of the country, wounding many civilians.

The ministry, in a statement read on state television, said rebels had launched attacks Sunday and Monday in northern Equator province, in the area of Makanza, and on loyalist positions between Lubao and Kabinda in eastern Kasai province.

THE MIDDLE EAST

Iraq Says Air Strike Hit Monastery

BAGHDAD, Iraq -- Iraq said U.S. and British warplanes attacked a fourth-century Christian monastery in the northern city of Mosul, killing and wounding a number of people at the site of a camp set up for astronomers to watch today's solar eclipse. The official Iraqi News Agency said a number of people were killed and wounded by three missiles fired by the planes, but did not give exact casualty figures.

Iraq said earlier that three people were wounded in Western air raids -- two in the northern "no-fly" zone and another in the southern one. The zones, declared by Western powers after the 1991 Gulf War, are patrolled by U.S. and British planes.

Turkey Seeks Iran's Help With Rebels

ANKARA, Turkey -- Turkey asked Iran to crack down on Kurdish rebels operating along their common border, hoping to keep the guerrillas from setting up bases in Iran. Turkey fears the rebels, who have pledged to withdraw from southeastern Turkey, will retreat to havens in Iran and northern Iraq. The guerrillas were forced out of Syria in October after Turkey threatened Damascus with military action.

During talks with Iranian officials in Ankara, Turkey asked Iran to deny shelter to Kurdish rebels and proposed simultaneous military operations against them, Turkey's private NTV television said. Iran denies that it harbors the rebels.

FOR THE RECORD

ARUSHA, Tanzania -- Top U.N. war crimes prosecutor Louise Arbour bid farewell to the U.N. tribunal for Rwanda, winning praise for her work to reform the much-maligned court.

KHARTOUM, Sudan -- A Saudi businessman filed suit against the United States seeking compensation for damages caused by the U.S. bombing of his pharmaceutical factory in Sudan last year, a lawyer said.

UNITED NATIONS -- Secretary General Kofi Annan proposed that the U.N. police presence in East Timor be increased from about 280 to 460 and the U.N. military liaison group from 50 to 300 after an Aug. 30 independence referendum.

QUOTE OF THE DAY

"I thought [Yevgeny] Primakov was still prime minister. Who can keep up?"

A Russian baffled by continuing changes at the Kremlin -- Page A14