AFRICA

Six Killed in S. Africa Shooting Spree

BLOEMFONTEIN, South Africa--A black officer went on a shooting rampage at a South African military base yesterday, killing six white soldiers and a white civilian before he was gunned down by colleagues.

The lieutenant opened fire with an assault rifle as a group of soldiers of the First South Africa Infantry Battalion was on its way to a shooting practice.

A major, a captain and four other soldiers died in the shooting. Five other white soldiers were injured, one critically, and were being treated in hospital.

Police said they were exploring the possibility that the 28-year-old lieutenant, whose name has not yet been released, went on the rampage for racially motivated reasons.

But Defense Minister Patrick Lekota said it was still too early to speculate on the reason for the killings.

ASIA

Typhoon York Pounds Hong Kong

HONG KONG--Typhoon York roared across Hong Kong yesterday--the first direct hit by such a powerful storm in 16 years--knocking windows out of skyscrapers and yanking trees from the ground as the normally bustling city collapsed into chaos.

One man died after being struck by flying debris, three people were missing and at least 493 people were injured--11 seriously--as York pounded Hong Kong with hurricane-force winds for nearly 11 hours.

The typhoon, packing maximum winds of more than 90 mph, also struck the neighboring Portuguese enclave of Macau.

Russian Ship Visits Japanese Military Port TOKYO--A Russian navy destroyer visited a Japanese military port in what officials said was apparently the first such visit this century.

The 6,700-ton Admiral Panteleyev entered port at Japan's fleet headquarters in Yokosuka, about 30 miles southwest of Tokyo. It is on a five-day visit for friendly exchanges and a joint exercise with a Japanese destroyer.

THE AMERICAS

Colombian Leaders Meet With Rebels

CARACAS--A group of Colombian politicians, businessmen and academics met with leaders of the country's second-largest guerrilla army at a hotel in Venezuela, in a bid to breathe life into stalled peace talks.

Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, who has long been angling for a leading role in neighboring Colombia's peace process, said he was delighted to be the host of the talks.

"I think that even if it is a grain of sand to prevent a drop of blood [being spilled] then they should talk here," he told reporters after addressing a forum of writers and artists.

Present at the meeting were Colombian Liberal Party leader Horacio Serpa and Antonio Navarro Wolff, a well-known legislator and former leader of the now defunct M-19 guerrilla group, the sources said. Also in attendance were Colombian Attorney General Jaime Bernal, a business representative and an academic.

THE MIDDLE EAST

Settlers May Be Moved, Official Says

JERUSALEM--Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak's newly appointed adviser on settlements said that Jewish settlers in the West Bank could be forced to relocate under a final peace deal with the Palestinians.

"It could be that in the final status negotiations some of the settlements will have to be dismantled. Of course this is not something I am advocating," said Shilo Gal, whose appointment was announced by Barak's office yesterday.

His statement came less than 24 hours after the formal launch of final-status peace talks with the Palestinians.

Meanwhile, Israeli authorities have agreed to allow Ali Abu Mustafa to return from exile, Israeli and Palestinian officials said. Mustafa is the deputy head of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, a Damascus-based PLO faction opposed to Yasser Arafat's peace deals with Israel.

EUROPE

Cuts a 'Bitter Necessity,' Schroeder Says

BERLIN--Despite accusing the conservative opposition of "demagoguery," Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder signaled readiness to work with political opponents to win passage of his controversial 2000 budget.

Addressing Parliament, Schroeder called the $15.8 billion cuts a "bitter necessity" to reduce $798 billion in federal debt amassed under the previous Christian Democratic government.

The austerity plan has provoked sharp criticism from the Christian Democrats, and even Schroeder has acknowledged it is partly to blame for four state election losses that have strengthened the opposition's hand. However, Schroeder insists the cuts are the only way to promote growth and fight stubborn unemployment, 10.3 percent in August.

Germany to Sue U.S. Over Executions

BERLIN--Germany said it would sue the United States in the World Court over the execution of two German-born convicted killers earlier this year in Arizona that Berlin said violated international laws and treaties.

Justice Minister Herta Daeubler-Gmelin, who had called the execution of the LaGrand brothers "barbaric," said in an interview with the Leipziger Volkszeitung newspaper: "We want to prevent this from happening again."

The brothers had been convicted of killing a bank manager in a 1982 robbery.

New Nuclear Waste Plant for Chernobyl

KIEV, Ukraine--Ukraine and a consortium of Belgian, French and Italian firms signed a deal to build a nuclear waste processing facility at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant.

The $122 million contract, to be financed by the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, was signed in Kiev by Ukraine's state nuclear energy company Energoatom and Belgium's Belgatom, France's SGN and Italy's Ansaldo.

The deal is a key part of the 1996 agreement between the former Soviet republic and the EBRD on improving safety at Chernobyl. The plant became infamous in 1986 after its No. 4 reactor exploded, spewing radiation over large parts of Europe.

QUOTE OF THE DAY

"We must strangle the vermin at the root."

-- Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin,

on how terrorists must be dealt with in the wake of a string of bombings. -- Page A22