EUROPE

French Farmers Protest U.S. Sanctions

MARSEILLE, France--Hundreds of angry farmers protesting American trade muscle and economic globalization bombarded riot police with apples in this Mediterranean port city yesterday, the latest demonstration in two weeks of protests.

In a simultaneous protest, up to 200 farmers, with cows, geese, pigs and a horse in tow, gathered in the Normandy town of Deauville, where the annual American Film Festival was underway.

The protest focused on U.S. trade sanctions on several products such as Roquefort cheese and foie gras. It has since expanded to include everything that symbolizes American dominance in trade and agriculture and globalization in general.

Europeans Debate Belgrade Sanctions

SAARISELKA, Finland--European Union foreign ministers shelved the idea of easing sanctions against Yugoslavia to support pro-democracy Serbs seeking to topple President Slobodan Milosevic.

Meeting informally at a Lapland ski resort, the officials said they wanted to offer humanitarian aid to Serbia's fledgling democratic movement, but that this is a complicated process that often involves dealing with the Belgrade administration.

Explosion Levels Apartments in Dagestan

MOSCOW--Rescue teams today recovered at least nine bodies and rescued more than 70 injured people from the rubble of part of a military apartment block destroyed by a powerful explosion in the southern Russian region of Dagestan.

Russian news agencies said that at least 70 residents were feared still buried in the rubble of the five-story block at a military base in the town Buynaksk and that the casualty toll could rise.

A police officer, contacted by telephone in Dagestan's capital, Makhachkala, said the blast late yesterday occurred near an area where Russian troops fought Islamic rebels. The officer also said a truck loaded with explosives had been defused by police in another part of town.

Interfax news agency said the Dagestani government had ordered an investigation into the blast, which it described as a "terrorist act."

Earlier in the day, Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin vowed that Islamic rebels in Dagestan would fail in their bid to break up Russia and praised federal troops preparing for an intensified campaign in that southern region.

Turkish Officials Revise Quake Death Toll

ISTANBUL--Turkish officials said they expected the death toll from the Aug. 17 earthquake to top 20,000 after they count those missing and the victims who were buried without a report to authorities, newspapers reported.

That would be a sharp decline from unofficial estimates in the first few days after the quake that the death toll could be as high as 40,000. Authorities said earlier estimates for the missing included victims believed to be buried under the rubble and people who had fled the quake area.

The official death count rose to 14,936 as more bodies were pulled from the rubble. More than 24,000 people were being treated for injuries, and thousands more are still missing.

Vatican Sends Cardinal to Film Festival

VENICE--The Vatican for the first time sent an ambassador to the Venice Film Festival to promote its own spiritual cinema gala and make contacts with Hollywood movie moguls. On the orders of Pope John Paul II, Cardinal Paul Poupard swept around the festival in his black and red robes between visits to filmmakers, but said he would not have time to mingle with the stars.

THE AMERICAS

Argentine Airlines Seek Airport Reopening

BUENOS AIRES--Argentine airlines defied threats of fines and suspended all domestic flights to and from Buenos Aires to force the government to reopen a city airport closed since a Boeing 737 crashed, killing 71 people.

Jorge Newbery airport in central Buenos Aires was closed by a court order on Tuesday shortly after a jet operated by the Argentine airline LAPA with 103 people on board aborted takeoff, skidded off a runway and across a highway, then exploded.

The airport, which is wedged next to the densely populated Palermo neighborhood, usually handles domestic flights. These were transferred to the already overcrowded Ezeiza International Airport on the city's outskirts. Airlines said Ezeiza could not handle the overflow.

Colombian Guerrillas Release Hostages

BOGOTA, Colombia--Guerrillas released 58 hostages on the fifth day of their occupation of a partly U.S.-owned hydroelectric plant in western Colombia.

Rebels of the leftist Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia released 23 hostages Friday. They still held 87 workers inside the Anchiclaya plant. The rebels seized the plant Tuesday without firing a shot. They said they would shut it down unless the region's electricity rates were reduced by 30 percent.

ASIA

China Cracks Down on Another Sect

BEIJING--Police in China's southern Guangdong province have arrested 31 people and demolished three churches in a campaign to crush a Protestant sect known as the "cold water religion," according to the state-run Guangzhou Daily newspaper.

The arrests took place recently in Lianping county, an impoverished, remote area in the northern part of the province, the newspaper said. The crackdown is part of a national campaign to wipe out unauthorized cults and religious groups that have sprung up across the country in recent years.

FOR THE RECORD

* PRISTINA, Yugoslavia--British peacekeepers and U.N. police in Kosovo are searching for clues to a pair of late night explosions that rocked central Pristina, killing one person and injuring five others, including several children.

* KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia--Supporters of jailed politician Anwar Ibrahim marched on a downtown street to mark the first anniversary of the popular leader's dismissal.

QUOTE OF THE DAY:

"Let us hope that throughout this region what once was considered extraordinary will more and more become routine."

-- Secretary of State Madeleine K. Albright speaking about peace in the Middle East