EUROPE

Under Investigation, Polish Official Resigns

WARSAW -- Poland's deputy prime minister resigned yesterday after a probe was launched into whether he lied in denying collaboration with the secret police under Communist rule.

Prime Minister Jerzy Buzek had earlier in the day ordered the dismissal of Janusz Tomaszewski, who is also the interior minister. Tomaszewski, considered one of the most powerful people in the government, resigned when a special court confirmed yesterday that it was investigating him.

A 1997 law requires the screening of top officials to see if they collaborated during decades of Communist rule in Poland. Any public official found to have lied in the statement must resign.

Meanwhile, Poland's cabinet approved a long-delayed and politically sensitive plan to return property illegally seized by the state before the fall of communism in 1989, the government said. The draft law will be sent to Parliament for approval.

Russian Government Pulls Plug on Network

MOSCOW -- The Russian government took a television network off the air over a report deriding a liberal party -- the first such action against a major media outlet since the 1991 collapse of the Soviet Union.

Russia's new Media Ministry suspended the license of the St. Petersburg Television and Radio Company because its report on the Right Cause political movement violated laws on the media and voters' rights, ministry chief Mikhail Lesin said.

The report focused on a Right Cause rally at a sports arena in St. Petersburg. The report claimed without any evidence that there was mass consumption of drugs among the audience. It also contained scathing personal attacks on liberal politicians Boris Nemtsov and Irina Khakamada, who lead Right Cause and are campaigning for December parliamentary elections.

Russia's Envoy to IMF Steps Down MOSCOW -- Russia's envoy to the International Monetary Fund abruptly quit, but he insisted that his decision was not connected to reports that IMF aid to Russia may have been illegally diverted through the Bank of New York.

Mikhail Zadornov said that all IMF money had been spent properly and that he was resigning to run for parliament in December.

ASIA

Christian Killed With Poisoned Arrows

CALCUTTA, India -- Unidentified assailants killed a Christian man with poisoned arrows in a remote jungle village in eastern India, senior government officials said.

Press Trust of India news agency identified the dead man as the Rev. Aruldoss and said he was a Roman Catholic priest. But Orissa state officials said the man was not a clergyman but a missionary who was living in the Keonjhar district of Orissa. They gave his name as Arun or Arum Doss, but there was no word on the man's nationality. In January, an Australian missionary and his 8- and 10-year-old sons were burned to death in Orissa.

Burma Sentences Foreigner for Pamphlets

BANGKOK, Thailand -- In its latest crackdown on democracy campaigners, Burma's military government has sentenced a Briton to 17 years in jail for carrying anti-government leaflets.

James Mawdsley, 26, from Lancashire, who also holds an Australian passport, was arrested Tuesday in the town of Tachilek, on the Thai border. He was tried and sentenced on Wednesday.

The government said the sentence included a five-year term for illegal entry imposed last year before he was deported, an additional five years for the latest illegal entry and seven years under a law governing printing and publishing.

Suicide Suspected in 1997 Jetliner Crash

SINGAPORE -- A 1997 SilkAir jet crash that killed all 104 people on board is being investigated as a possible suicide-murder case, Singapore police said.

The SilkAir Boeing 737 crashed into an Indonesian river Dec. 19, 1997, during an otherwise routine flight from Jakarta to Singapore. Singapore asked police to investigate the crash after an Indonesian investigative report spurred speculation that Flight MI185 may have been deliberately crashed. That report said the jet's controls had been put into a descent setting shortly before the crash, suggesting direct action by someone in the cockpit.

THE MIDDLE EAST

Ariel Sharon to Lead Israel's Likud Party

JERUSALEM -- Ariel Sharon, a legendary ex-general and political hawk, was elected as leader of Israel's Likud party.

Sharon, 71, is expected to lead the Likud out of the abyss created by moderate Ehud Barak's crushing defeat of Likud Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in May elections. The party has scheduled another leadership vote in two years to pick a candidate for elections scheduled in 2003.

AFRICA

Fighting Reported on Ethiopia-Eritrea Border

ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia -- Ethiopian and Eritrean troops have fought a nine-hour battle over their disputed border, an Ethiopian official said.

The fighting started Wednesday at the Zalambessa front, 220 miles north of Addis Ababa, and died down by morning, government spokeswoman Selome Tadesse said. Yemane Gebremeskel, spokesman for Eritrean President Issaias Afwerki, denied that any fighting had taken place.

Selome said the battle took place a day after U.S. envoy Anthony Lake, Assistant Secretary of State Susan Rice and Gayle Smith of the National Security Council held talks with Ethiopian Prime Minister Meles Zenawi on the implementation of a peace plan drafted by the Organization of African Unity.

THE AMERICAS

Fire Contained in Peru's Manu National Park

CUZCO, Peru -- Firefighters contained a blaze that raged for two days over 220 acres of Peru's Manu National Park, considered by scientists to be the most diverse center of wildlife and fauna on the planet.

Officials did not know the cause of the fire, which started Wednesday in the 4.6 million acre park. But wildfires are not uncommon this time of year, as indigenous farmers clear patches of grassland for cultivation.

QUOTE OF THE DAY

"It's stupid to involve the Americans. They don't want to be involved in it, and we don't want them to be involved."

Haim Ramon, an Israeli government minister who has also been involved in talks with Palestinians -- Page A1