AFRICA

Rwandan, Ugandan Troops Clash in Congo

KISANGANI, Congo -- Rwandan and Ugandan troops backing rival factions in a rebellion against Congo's president clashed with mortar and machine-gun fire, their commanders said, threatening to push the region back into wide-scale war.

A sporadic exchange of mortar and gunfire that began at the airport outside Kisangani on Saturday spread to the city center late yesterday, as the thud of mortar and artillery explosions echoed in the streets and tracers arced across the night sky.

Uganda and Rwanda both have troops in Kisangani backing rival rebel factions trying to oust Congolese President Laurent Kabila.

Liberian Troops Search for Rebels

MONROVIA, Liberia -- Government troops combed the dense forests of northern Liberia in search of rebels who briefly seized major towns and took civilian hostages before scattering last week, government officials said.

Defense Minister Daniel Chea said Liberian forces had retaken control of all towns and villages captured during the cross-border raid launched Tuesday. Exactly who the insurgents are remains unclear.

At Least 29 Killed in Algerian Massacre

ALGIERS -- An armed group killed 29 people in southwestern Algeria and injured three others in the worst violence since the country's president took office in April, Algerian security forces said.

The attack took place near Beni Ounif in western Algeria, close to the border with Morocco, the security forces said. Hospital sources said the death toll could be as high as 40, but that figure could not be independently confirmed.

No details on the attack were immediately available, and no one claimed responsibility for the attack. Such massacres are usually blamed on the Armed Islamic Group, which appears to want to sabotage the peace efforts of President Abdelaziz Bouteflika.

THE AMERICAS

Senate Leader Daschle Meets With Castro

HAVANA -- U.S. Senate leader Thomas A. Daschle (D-S.D.), on the highest-level visit to Cuba by an elected American politician in years, met for eight hours with President Fidel Castro.

Daschle, who was joined by Sen. Byron L. Dorgan (D-N.D.), did not comment publicly after the meeting, but the two said they would probably issue a statement today summarizing their impressions of the three-day trip.

The Senate, on behalf of U.S. farmers eager to expand exports, recently voted against unilateral trade sanctions such as Washington's 37-year-old embargo on Cuba. The two nations cut formal relations soon after Castro's 1959 revolution.

Gunmen Target Mexico's Anti-Drug Czar

MEXICO CITY -- Gunmen on motorcycles opened fire on a pickup truck carrying Mexico's anti-drug czar Mariano Herran Salvatti, but he was not injured, officials said.

The attack took place at about 1:30 p.m. in southern Mexico City, Mexico's TV Azteca reported.

When the shots rang out, Herran Salvatti's bodyguards returned fire and injured one of the gunmen, who was placed under arrest and taken to a hospital, TV Azteca reported.

THE MIDDLE EAST

Seven Top Officials to Stand Trial in Iran

TEHRAN -- Seven top security officials and a group of hard-line vigilantes are to stand trial in Iran for their role in an attack on a student dormitory that led to riots last month, an official report said. The attack July 8 and 9 left hundreds injured and at least one dead.

A widely anticipated report by the investigative committee of the Supreme National Security Council said the seven security officials included Tehran's police chief and commanders of several special anti-riot police forces. Their names were withheld pending trial.

Barak Resolves Crisis With Orthodox Allies

JERUSALEM -- Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak defused a crisis with ultra-Orthodox coalition partners who threatened to quit over the transport by road of a huge turbine on the Sabbath.

The four cabinet ministers from the ultra-Orthodox Shas party, angry about the 50-mile move, which went ahead overnight on Friday, said Barak had agreed that a professional team would consider weekday alternatives for similar future operations.

The ultra-Orthodox party, which controls 17 of the 75 seats in the coalition, had complained that the transport violated Jewish religious law prohibiting motor travel on the Sabbath, which lasts from sunset on Fridays to dusk on Saturdays. The departure of Shas would have cost Barak his majority in the 120-seat parliament.

EUROPE

N. Irish Observe Anniversary of IRA Attack

OMAGH, Northern Ireland -- Shedding silent tears, more than 10,000 Protestants and Catholics united in prayer one year to the minute after Irish Republican Army dissidents committed Northern Ireland's worst terrorist attack.

Residents filled the streets of central Omagh as far as the eye could see. They observed a minute's silence in solidarity with the 29 dead and the hundreds left injured when a car bomb tore apart a crowd of weekend shoppers and tourists at 3:10 p.m. on Aug. 15, 1998.

FOR THE RECORD

BAGHDAD, Iraq -- U.S. warplanes attacked sites in the Iraqi provinces of Dahuk, Irbil and Mosul, wounding three people and destroying a mosque, the Iraqi armed forces said.

HEBRON, West Bank -- A car bomb exploded at a shop in the West Bank city of Hebron, wrecking a suspected bomb factory, a Palestinian official said. No one was hurt because the shop was empty at the time of the explosion.

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates -- Kidnappers seized three Spaniards, an Italian and an Iranian from a dining room at a hotel in central Iran, the official Iranian news agency said. This is at least the third mysterious attack on foreigners in Iran this year.

QUOTE OF THE DAY:

"We are talking about destroying the rebels fully."

-- Gen. Anatoly Kvashnin, chief of the Russian general staff