THE MIDDLE EAST
2 Israelis Slain on Eve of Albright Visit
MEGIDDO JUNCTION, Israel -- An Israeli couple was found slain near here on the Israeli-West Bank border yesterday, and police said they suspect the man and woman were killed by militant Palestinians.
Regional police commander Alik Ron told Israeli television: "The motives are not known to us now, but we are emphasizing the nationalist side, I believed it played a role here." Investigators said there were "signs of violence" on the bodies of the 26-year-old man and 25-year-old woman but gave no other details. Their names were not released, but a police spokesman said they were students at Haifa Technical College and had been visiting the Megiddo forest, a popular nature reserve straddling Israel and the West Bank.
The killings, coming on the eve of Secretary of State Madeleine K. Albright's visit to the region, could complicate talks on a final Israeli-Palestinian peace deal. Militant Islamic groups, such as Hamas and Islamic Jihad, oppose the peace talks and have threatened to launch anti-Israeli attacks to try to halt them.
Jordanian Forces Close Hamas Offices
AMMAN, Jordan -- Jordanian security forces closed the Amman offices of the militant Palestinian group Hamas and arrested several people, Jordan's official news agency Petra said. The offices were closed after they were found to be used for political activities by non-Jordanian groups, the news agency said.
Israel has repeatedly asked Jordan to close down the offices of Hamas, which has killed scores of Israelis in suicide bombings in an attempt to torpedo peace deals between Israel and the Palestinians.
IRA Orders Seven Youths Out of N. Ireland
BELFAST -- Seven Catholic youths from Northern Ireland have been exiled by the Irish Republican Army under threat of death, further straining the province's shaky peace process and putting pressure on Britain's Northern Ireland secretary, Marjorie Mowlam.
A 19-year-old man was ordered out of the country after being dragged into a car and attacked with an iron bar. A 15-year-old was told he had 24 hours to leave the country, and four teenagers were told by their priest that they would be shot if they did not get out by the next nightfall.
Protestant unionists contend the expulsions are further proof that the IRA does not intend to give up violence, even as its political affiliate, Sinn Fein, signed a nonviolence pact to participate in peace negotiations.
Ulster Unionist Party leader David Trimble and others say that Mowlam, by excusing IRA violence within the Catholic community, is encouraging the outlawed group to continue the vigilante murder, beating and banishment of Catholics the IRA decides are undesirables.
Kosovo Rebels Vow to Meet Arms Deadline
PRISTINA, Yugoslavia -- The military commander of the Kosovo Liberation Army assured U.S. envoy Richard C. Holbrooke that the guerrillas would honor a demilitarization agreement with NATO and hand in their arms by Sept. 19. The commander, Agim Ceku, also said the KLA would become a "Kosovo army" -- an entity not provided for in the June demilitarization agreement with NATO.
Holbrooke refused to comment on Ceku's remarks or explain how they would meet the conditions set down in the June peace deal that followed the end of the 78-day NATO bombing campaign against Yugoslavia.
Shining Path Leader Receives Life Sentence
LIMA, Peru -- A military tribunal handed a life sentence to a top leader of the Maoist rebel group Shining Path. Oscar Ramirez Durand was found guilty of treason in a closed military trial, the Supreme Military Justice Council said in a statement.
Ramirez Durand, 46, was considered the last top rebel leader still at large before he was captured July 14.
Uzbekistan Jets Mistakenly Attack Village
BISHKEK, Kyrgyzstan -- Jets from Uzbekistan mistakenly attacked a Kyrgz village and killed three people in a region where its military is working alongside Kyrgyzstan forces to fight a gang of marauding gunmen, officials said. Uzbekistan's air force was supporting Kyrgyzstan's small and poorly equipped forces in trying to flush out up to 750 guerrillas, hiding with 16 hostages in the mountains of the southern Batken region.
Burundi Buries Victims of Hutu Rebel Attack
BUJUMBURA, Burundi -- Residents buried victims of a weekend attack on the city by ethnic Hutu rebels and said they feared the rebels would strike again. Thirty-eight civilians, most of them young children, were killed in the attack. The army said 20 rebels also were killed after they raided two suburbs Saturday night.
Burundi has been plagued by violence that has killed more than 200,000 people since 1993, when Tutsi paratroops assassinated the country's first democratically elected president, a Hutu.
Congolese Rebels Gather to Sign Accord
LUSAKA, Zambia -- Congolese rebel leaders flew into Lusaka and immediately traded accusations before a cease-fire ceremony aimed at ending the war in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
Up to 50 founding members of the now fractured Congolese Rally for Democracy were expected Tuesday to endorse the cease-fire first signed on July 10 by six African countries -- Congo and its allies Angola, Namibia, Zimbabwe, and rebel backers Rwanda and Uganda -- in Lusaka. The truce signing will pave the way for the deployment of international peacekeepers and direct talks between the Congolese government of President Laurent Kabila, and political and military groups that tried to overthrow him.
QUOTE OF THE DAY
"Today the eagle of liberty has spread its proud wings over the people of East Timor."
Jamsheed Marker, the U.N. special representative
for East Timor -- Page A7