EUROPE

Gas Explosion Unnerves Moscow

MOSCOW--An explosion apparently caused by a gas container in an apartment building created a brief panic yesterday in Moscow, where residents were already reeling from two deadly bombings in the past two weeks.

"This was a gas explosion, no one was killed," an official said of the blast in northern Moscow. "Everything has been checked out and this was not a terrorist act."

The Interfax news agency said two people were taken to hospital, while Russian Tass said one child was injured.

During the past two weeks, the capital bombings on Sept. 9 and 13 and two others elsewhere in Russia have killed nearly 300 people. Officials have blamed the attacks on separatist rebels from the breakaway Caucasus region of Chechnya in southern Russia, but the groups have denied the charges.

Kosovo TV Station Back on the Air

PRISTINA, Yugoslavia--Kosovo television went back on the air under international management, catering primarily to the province's ethnic Albanian majority with news and features. But ethnic Albanians who worked for Radio Television of Kosovo before being fired in 1990 as part of a Serbian crackdown said they were unhappy that only a few of them had been rehired.

Pope Denounces Extreme Nationalism

MARIBOR, Slovenia--Pope John Paul II, journeying to the Balkans to honor a bishop who preached patriotism and tolerance, decried the dangers of extreme nationalism and prayed that horrors such as mass revenge killings never occur again.

Less than a year after his last trip to the Balkans, the pope was back, this time visiting a corner of Slovenia near the Austrian and Hungarian borders to beatify Anton Martin Slomsek, a 19th-century bishop who promoted the Slovenes' language and sense of identity during Austrian domination.

THE AMERICAS

Colombian Rebels Warn Against U.S. Aid

BOGOTA, Colombia--Colombia's peace process could collapse, opening the way to civil war, if the government draws on more military aid from the United States, Marxist rebel leaders said.

The rebel communique came as President Andres Pastrana traveled to New York to address the United Nations and lobby U.S. officials for more anti-drug and military assistance.

The statement by the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia appeared to rebuff Pastrana's weekend bid to kick-start peace negotiations, stalled since mid-July. Before leaving for New York, Pastrana dropped his demand for the creation of an international team of monitors to oversee talks--a condition the rebels had fiercely opposed.

Heavy Rains Wreak Havoc in Honduras

TEGUCIGALPA, Honduras--The Honduran government declared a state of emergency in 50 areas hit by a week of torrential rains that have killed at least six people and forced the evacuation of thousands.

The intense downpours have dumped an average of more than two inches of rain each day. About 9,000 Hondurans had been stranded after flooding cut off roads leading to their towns.

The country is still struggling to recover from Hurricane Mitch, which arrived last Oct. 25 and lashed the country until Nov. 2, leaving an official count of 5,657 dead, more than 8,000 missing, 12,000 injured, and 220,000 homes and other buildings destroyed. Damage was estimated at more than $6 billion.

ASIA

Falun Gong Members Detained in China

BEIJING--Members of a popular spiritual and exercise movement are defying a two-month-old ban by China's Communist government, prompting a new wave of arrests, state media and a human rights group reported.

Police in nine cities have detained at least 300 practitioners of Falun Gong in the past week, 10 of them in a park in Changsha, a southern provincial capital, the Hong Kong-based Information Center of Human Rights and Democratic Movement in China reported.

Indonesia Deports American Writer

JAKARTA, Indonesia--A U.S. freelance writer who has criticized Indonesia for its treatment of East Timorese was deported after entering the country illegally, the national Antara news agency said.

Allan Nairn, who writes for the Nation magazine, was arrested in East Timor's capital of Dili while surveying damage done by rampaging Indonesian troops and their militia auxiliaries.

Immigration authorities in Kupang, in Indonesian-controlled western Timor, put Nairn on a flight to Singapore, saying he had entered the country without the necessary journalist's visa.

Anwar Supporters Protest in Malaysia

KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia--Malaysian riot police fired tear gas and water cannons at more than 10,000 supporters of jailed politician Anwar Ibrahim at the National Mosque.

Police fired without warning on the crowd, which had gathered at the mosque to protest the treatment of Anwar, who has said he is being poisoned.

23 Killed in Thai Fruit Factory Blast

SAN PA TONG, Thailand--A fruit processing factory exploded in two huge blasts, sending debris flying more than a mile, killing at least 23 people, and injuring more than 120, police said.

The blast was believed to have been caused by chemicals at the factory. TV reports said about 10 tons of ammonium nitrate, a chemical used as fertilizer and in some explosives, may have exploded. It was not known how the chemical ignited.

QUOTE OF THE DAY

"It's true that Germans have always had a special love affair with the car. But there's no reason you have to remain trapped in a bad and unhealthy relationship."

-- Pit Klasen, a Bremen architect who swore off owning an automobile six years ago and now designs car-free neighborhoods, Page A9