ASIA

Detained American Allowed to Leave China

BEIJING -- An American researcher seriously injured after he jumped from a third-floor window while in detention was flown to Hong Kong for medical treatment today, 11 days after police seized him near the site of a proposed World Bank project in China.

Daja Meston, 29, was taken from an intensive care unit at a hospital in Xining, capital of Qinghai province, and put on a chartered plane to Hong Kong, U.S. Embassy officials said.

Meston, an Australian researcher and a Chinese citizen hired as their translator were detained on Aug. 15.

Meston suffered serious spinal injuries, broken bones and other internal injuries when he jumped from a third-floor window of a hotel in Xining where he was being held. Meston reportedly told embassy officials that he was attempting to escape.

Members of Private Army Arrested in China

BEIJING -- Authorities say they have broken up a secret private army set up by farmers in southwestern China, arresting as many as 20 members and charging 10 with subversion.

Dozens had joined the unauthorized militia in the two years since Yang Jiahua, a farmer, began recruiting in the hilly countryside near Chongqing city, according to an account in a state-run newspaper, Yangcheng Evening News.

The report did not say whether the group had illegally gathered any weapons, although many farmers own hunting rifles. But the group's existence underscores Chinese leaders' fears about restiveness among farmers angry over high taxes, stagnating incomes and corruption.

THE MIDDLE EAST

Russian Air Strikes on Chechnya Reported

MAKHACHKALA, Russia -- Fighting between government forces and Islamic militants in the southern Russian republic of Dagestan had virtually ended yesterday, but tensions remained high over reported government attacks on the neighboring breakaway region of Chechnya.

Russia's military said its jets pounded Islamic militants retreating to Chechnya on Wednesday after a failed invasion of Dagestan. But officials gave conflicting reports of whether the strikes actually hit Chechen territory.

Chechen officials claimed Russian jets made 16 bombing runs on the region Wednesday.

The Russian defense ministry's press center in Dagestan said that Russian jets bombed the militants within Chechnya. Later, Defense Minister Igor Sergeyev and Air Force chief of staff Anatoly Kornukov denied that Chechen territory had been hit.

New Law Would Pardon Kurdish Rebels

ISTANBUL -- Turkey's parliament passed a law that could pardon a large number Kurdish guerrillas fighting for autonomy in the southeastern part of the country.

The law came a day after rebels from the Kurdish Workers Party, or PKK, announced they had started pulling out of the region. PKK leader Abdullah Ocalan, sentenced to death by a Turkish court in June, had asked his followers to put down their arms.

The law will give amnesty to rebels who are not known to have engaged in fighting, have no criminal record, or who surrender and provide information on the PKK. It also encompasses known PKK members who are not under investigation, but it was unclear how many would be affected by the law. It will expire in six months.

The law also foresees the possibility of lower sentences for any imprisoned guerillas who provide information against the PKK.

EUROPE

Milosevic Accuses U.S. of Conspiracy

GNJILANE, Yugoslavia -- President Slobodan Milosevic accused the United States of conspiring with the ethnic Albanians targeting Kosovo's minority Serbs, charging that America was responsible for a mass grave in the U.S. sector of Kosovo.

Milosevic issued a statement alleging that the Americans were in "alliance with murderers, drug traffickers and terrorists of the Kosovo Liberation Army." It suggested that opposition leaders demanding Milosevic's resignation were linked to the alleged American campaign against Kosovo's Serbs.

Bosnian Serb Army Reacts to Arrest

SARAJEVO, Bosnia -- The Bosnian Serb army announced it was cutting ties with all international organizations involved in the arrest of its top general on a U.N. war crimes warrant.

The announcement, made on Bosnian Serb television, did not specify which organizations were included, although it was implicit that the U.N. war crimes tribunal was one of them. It may have been aimed more for domestic consumption, to show outraged Bosnian Serbs that the army was not accepting Wednesday's arrest of Gen. Momir Talic in Austria without reaction.

THE AMERICAS

Massive Mexican Emigration Predicted

MEXICO CITY -- As many as 8 million Mexicans -- a number equal to those currently living in the United States -- will migrate north of the border by 2020 unless Mexico manages to create more jobs, a government council predicted.

The National Population Council's report, presented to a congressional hearing Wednesday, said Mexico needs to create 1 million jobs per year to meet population growth.

Rebels, Mexican Soldiers Clash in Chiapas

SAN CRISTOBAL DE LAS CASAS, Mexico -- A confrontation between Zapatistas and Mexican soldiers in the southern state of Chiapas left nine people wounded, rebels and military authorities said.

The defense ministry said 40 people armed with sticks, machetes and rocks attacked a patrol Wednesday near San Jose la Esperanza "in a clear provocation." Seven soldiers and police were wounded.

The rebel Zapatista National Liberation Army said in a statement that two rebels were shot and wounded when Mexican soldiers and police attacked the Lacandon Jungle community.

FOR THE RECORD

ORAHOVAC, Yugoslavia -- Ethnic Albanians stood their ground, refusing to allow Russian peacekeepers into the Kosovo town of Orahovac after a third round of talks with Serbs and military chiefs.

GAZA CITY -- Palestinian police have detained 90 Hamas activists in the last few days in response to attempts by the Islamic militant group to carry out attacks on Israelis, a Hamas leader and Palestinian officials said.

QUOTE OF THE DAY

"The peace we have now is imperfect, but better than none."

Marjorie Mowlam, the British government's secretary for Northern Ireland -- Page A22