Akio Morita, Sony Corp. Co-Founder, Dies

TOKYO--Akio Morita, the entrepreneur, engineer and savvy salesman who co-founded Sony Corp. died Sunday, Kyodo News service reported. He was 78.

Morita had been in failing health since a stroke in 1993. He died at a Tokyo hospital Sunday morning, Kyodo said.

Morita co-founded Sony after World War II. He was the last of a generation of Japanese industrialists that included car maker Soichiro Honda and electronics rival Konosuke Matsushita.

A native of the western Japanese city of Nagoya, Morita retired as Sony's chairman in 1994, a year after he suffered a stroke that left him in a wheelchair. He stayed on as honorary chairman and Norio Ohga was appointed as his successor.

Preelection Violence Kills 5 in India

NEW DELHI--Suspected guerrillas pushing villagers to boycott India's elections set off a land mine, killing five people and wounding three others in Assam state on the eve of the last round of India's five-phase ballot, police said.

One local politician also was gunned down in the state, where rebels have been fighting security forces for several years to win more autonomy. Police also shot and killed two rebels in Assam, bringing the day's death toll to eight in election-related violence.

All but a handful of India's districts complete the five-phase election to choose 543 legislators for Parliament today. Counting of votes begins early this week and a new legislature must be in place by the middle of the month.


Ethnic Albanians Set Up Barricades

KOSOVO POLJE, Yugoslavia--After U.N. officials failed to persuade Serbs to open a main road, ethnic Albanians set up barricades of their own, blocking access to the commercial center Polje, a Serbian stronghold in Kosovo, a province of Serbia.

The new blockades in this town just southwest of Pristina have set back U.N. efforts to ease tensions that escalated after a grenade attack Tuesday killed three Serbs and injured about 40 others. Serbs responded to the attack by blocking the highway from Pristina to the western city of Pec.

"We are blocking the roads because the Serbians are still there," said one ethnic Albanian, referring to a nearby Serbian barricade on Kosovo's main east-west highway. "If the Serbians remove their barricade, we are gone in 30 seconds," the man said.

Riot Police Block Belgrade March

BELGRADE--Serbian riot police formed a cordon in downtown Belgrade to block an anti-government march of around 10,000 people, but there was no violence, witnesses said. On the 12th day of anti-government protests across Serbia, the opposition had planned to march to the Belgrade hospital that treated about 20 people injured in clashes with police during demonstrations earlier in the week.

Bomb Wounds Ukrainian Candidate

KIEV, Ukraine--Ukrainian presidential candidate Natalya Vitrenko was injured when homemade bombs were thrown at her during a campaign rally.

Vitrenko, a flamboyant leftist running neck-and-neck with incumbent Leonid Kuchma in the campaign for the Oct. 31 vote, was one of 17 people who suffered superficial injuries, senior regional official Anatoly Klimenko said by telephone. Police, who said two people had been detained, had no motive for the attack.


Argentina Says It Might Expel Paraguayan

BUENOS AIRES--Argentina might expel an exiled Paraguayan military strongman after he was quoted saying he will return to his country to stage "coups through votes" and comparing himself to Jesus Christ, a top official said.

Interior Minister Carlos Corach said former Paraguayan army cavalryman Lino Oviedo had been granted asylum in Argentina on the condition that he not make political statements, "and this will be fully applied."

Oviedo fled Paraguay in March after being accused of involvement in the assassination of old political rival Vice President Luis Argana. Oviedo was the army strongman behind Paraguay's former president Raul Cubas, who has since been impeached and sought asylum in Brazil. The Argentine government's refusal to extradite Oviedo led Paraguay to recall its ambassador a month ago.


Iranian Leader Appeals for Restraint

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates--Tension in Iran over a play deemed insulting to Islam appeared to ease after Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, the country's supreme leader, made an extraordinary appeal Friday for restraint.

Hard-liners had used the play to condemn President Mohammed Khatemi for allowing greater freedom of expression. The tension between hard-line and reformist factions had threatened to explode when a senior police chief threatened to kill the playwrights. The play was published last month in a university journal but never staged. Officials have said the text involved the theme of faking religious convictions to make political gains.

"Nobody should go too far. The sentiments should be controlled. We have heard that somebody has said they will punish the writers of the play. No, not at all," Khamenei said.


Rebels Say Congo Broke Cease-Fire

KIGALI, Rwanda--Congolese rebels accused government troops of breaking a month-old cease-fire deal by attacking a key rebel position, and warned that they might respond with a new offensive.

Rebel leaders said their forces came under heavy artillery fire near the eastern town of Kabinda, east of the Congo's main diamond mining center of Mbuji-Mayi. The government denied the charge.

Incumbent Wins in Central Africa

BANGUI, Central African Republic--President Ange-Felix Patasse was pronounced the winner of last month's election, prompting celebrations by supporters on the streets of the capital.

Patasse won the Sept. 19 election with nearly 52 percent of the vote, beating nine other candidates, state radio reported. The nearest challenger, former president Andre Kolingba, had 19 percent.


"The whole nation may be reunited, but it is in a bad mood."

-- Guenter de Bruyn, an eastern German novelist whose latest book explores the widespread feelings of disenchantment felt nearly a decade after the Berlin Wall came down