EUROPE

NATO Troops Confront Ethnic Albanians

PRISTINA, Yugoslavia -- Peacekeepers from the United States, France and Russia confronted ethnic Albanian protesters yesterday in three incidents that demonstrated the tension between Kosovo's ethnic Albanian majority and the foreign forces that helped them return home.

No one was injured, but the confrontations sparked further accusations by ethnic Albanians that NATO troops from France and Russia favor Serbs. Brig. Gen. John Craddock, the outgoing commander of U.S. forces in Kosovo, called the claims a "disinformation campaign."

In the southeastern town of Gnjilane, U.S. troops scuffled with ethnic Albanians demanding the release of 10 men arrested Tuesday. The men, wearing uniforms of the separatist Kosovo Liberation Army, were seized in a raid on a house where illegal weapons were found. U.S. troops also arrested nine men for attacking a Russian tank.

Swiss Prosecutor to Head U.N. Tribunals

UNITED NATIONS -- The U.N. Security Council appointed Switzerland's crusading federal prosecutor, Carla del Ponte, to head U.N. criminal tribunals for the former Yugoslavia and Rwanda. The council unanimously backed del Ponte, Secretary General Kofi Annan's choice to replace Louise Arbour, who is joining Canada's Supreme Court. Del Ponte, 52, will start her new job Sept. 15.

THE AMERICAS

150 Chinese Dumped on Canadian Beach

VANCOUVER -- About 150 illegal immigrants from China, including children, waded onto an isolated Canadian beach in stormy weather after being unloaded from a vessel that had smuggled them across the Pacific Ocean, officials said.

The fishing boat was seized after it left its human cargo at Gilbert Bay on the Queen Charlotte Islands about 500 miles northwest of Vancouver, near the Alaska panhandle, officials said.

Central Americans Back Taiwan's U.N. Bid

SAN JOSE, Costa Rica -- Foreign ministers of six Central American countries say they support Taiwan's efforts to rejoin the United Nations and other agencies that expelled the island country in favor of mainland China. Taiwan also announced $21 million in aid to the region as a meeting of the Central American foreign ministers and a Taiwanese envoy came to a close on Tuesday. Central America is a rare stronghold of support for Taiwan in its efforts to resist Beijing's attempts to strip the island of international recognition. China considers Taiwan a renegade province.

Economist Sworn In as Guyana's President

GEORGETOWN, Guyana -- Bharrat Jagdeo, a 35-year-old Moscow-educated economist, was sworn in as president of Guyana, becoming the youngest head of state in the Americas. Jagdeo, who has been finance minister since 1995, succeeded Janet Jagan, 78, who resigned because of poor health.

Jagdeo is expected to maintain the free-market economic policies of Jagan, who suffered a mild heart attack last month.

THE MIDDLE EAST

German Retried in Iranian Sex Case

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates -- A German businessman went back on trial on charges of having sex with an unmarried Iranian woman, after a previous death sentence was annulled. There were no details from the first day of the retrial of Helmut Hofer, and neither officials nor defense lawyers would comment on the two-hour session in a Tehran court.

Hofer, 56, was sentenced to be hanged in January 1998 for having sex with a 26-year-old law student. Under Iranian law, sex outside marriage is punishable by flogging, but if the man is not a Muslim, he faces the death penalty.

AFRICA

S. African Gun Owners Protest Restrictions

CAPE TOWN, South Africa -- More than 1,000 South African gun owners, most of them white, marched to the gates of Parliament to protest planned curbs on firearm ownership. Chanting "Crime control, not gun control" and carrying banners with slogans such as "Don't disarm law abiding citizens," the marchers handed a petition to a representative of the Safety and Security Ministry. There are 4 million registered firearms in South Africa -- or one for every 10 men, women and children.

Six Aid Workers Taken Hostage in Liberia

LONDON -- An armed gang kidnapped six European aid workers in a region of Liberia where government troops were battling insurgents, officials said.

Four British workers were among the victims, the British Broadcasting Corp. reported. A Norwegian and an Italian were also abducted.

Three of the hostages work for the medical charity Merlin and were helping to rebuild hospitals, the British Foreign Office said. At least two of the others work for Doctors Without Borders.

Merlin said its workers were seized when armed men entered their compound in Lofa County near the Sierra Leone and Guinea borders.

Earlier yesterday, Liberian President Charles Taylor declared a state of emergency in Lofa County, where he said insurgents based in Guinea had captured several towns overnight.

ASIA

Religious Clashes Rage in Eastern Indonesia

AMBON, Indonesia -- Police and soldiers shot at battling mobs of Muslims and Christians in eastern Indonesia as street fighting between the religious groups flared, police and witnesses said. At least 25 people have been killed in rioting since Monday in Maluku province. Riot police shot and killed some people, witnesses said. Mobs stabbed or beat others.

Cambodia to Delay Khmer Rouge Trials

PHNOM PENH, Cambodia -- The Cambodian parliament voted to allow a delay of up to three years in the trials of former Khmer Rouge leaders charged with participating in genocide in the 1970s. The measure, which extends the pretrial detention period for suspects in war crimes cases, had the support of both Prime Minister Hun Sen's ruling party and its coalition partner, Funcinpec.

QUOTE OF THE DAY

"There was an amazing vibration in the air, like a communion with nature."

French businessman David Houzelot, after watching the eclipse of the sun -- Page A1