THE MIDDLE EAST

Release of Palestinian Prisoners Delayed

JERUSALEM--Israel postponed the release of 151 Palestinian prisoners who were supposed to be set free today after a dispute arose with the Palestinian Authority.

Internal Security Minister Shlomo Ben-Ami said the Palestinian official in charge of prisoners raised objections to the list Israel offered. Ben-Ami said the decision over which prisoners to release is Israel's alone, though the Palestinians are to be consulted.

The release of prisoners was one of the moves agreed to by Israel and the Palestinians in an interim peace deal signed last month in Egypt's Red Sea resort of Sharm el Sheikh.

Palestinians say Israel is straying from the agreement by denying freedom to as many as 47 longer-serving prisoners. But Ben-Ami said Israel would continue to deny freedom to any Palestinian prisoner who "murdered Israelis or seriously wounded them."

Turkish Court Postpones Ocalan Trial

ANKARA, Turkey--A Turkish court postponed the appeal of Abdullah Ocalan's death sentence, granting the Kurdish rebel leader's lawyers two additional weeks to prepare their case.

Ocalan's lawyers, who had asked for an extra month, did not appear at the Ankara appeals court for the five-minute hearing. The next session, scheduled for Oct. 21, will proceed whether the lawyers attend, the semi-official Anatolian news agency reported.

EUROPE

German Police Arrest Former SS Officer

STUTTGART, Germany--An 81-year-old former Nazi SS officer has been arrested based on witness accounts that he killed seven Jews in a concentration camp, a German prosecutor said.

The man, who was not publicly identified, was arrested at his home in the town of Allgaeu, in the southwestern state of Baden-Wurttemberg, the prosecutor said in a statement.

Mayors Choose New Face of France

PARIS--Laetitia Casta, a model and actress, was chosen as the new symbol of France, and her face will grace public buildings across the country, the French Mayor's Association said.

Casta, 21, defeated another model, a singer, a windsurfing champion and a television anchor.

THE AMERICAS

Ecuadoran Volcano Spews More Ash

QUITO, Ecuador--The Guagua Pichincha volcano belched out a giant mushroom cloud of ash in its second major explosion in three days. People going to work stopped in amazement as the cloud rose 12 miles over Quito, the capital, and into the clear blue sky. The plume of gas and ash, which scientists say does not necessarily herald an eruption, caused little panic.

AFRICA

Congo Rebels Report Attack on Hutus

KIGALI, Rwanda--Congolese rebels said they killed more than 200 Rwandan Hutu militiamen operating in the northeastern part of the Democratic Republic of Congo in an attack mounted with the Rwandan army.

"The operation was a big success," Jean Pierre Ondekane, commander of the main rebel movement, the Congolese Rally for Democracy, said in a satellite phone interview from the group's stronghold in Goma.

The fighting demonstrated the fragility of the five-week-old cease-fire signed by the Congolese government, rebel leaders and the six African countries that have sent troops to fight on either side of the Congo war.

World Bank Chief Pledges Help for Nigeria

ABUJA, Nigeria--World Bank President James Wolfensohn, welcoming Nigeria's return to civilian rule, pledged to help the country renegotiate the bulk of its estimated $30 billion of external debt.

"We are happy to play a leading role in debt renegotiation for Nigeria," he told the country's elected legislators at a conference in the capital, Abuja. "I promise that the World Bank will support and assist Nigeria in her development efforts now that you have a good government in place that is democratically elected," he added in a speech marking the start of a three-day visit.

Epidemic Kills 40 in Sierra Leone

FREETOWN, Sierra Leone--At least 40 people have died in northern Sierra Leone in the past 10 days from an epidemic linked to the inadequate burial of hundreds of civil war victims, a community health officer said.

Clifford Gamanga told reporters that in the Port Loko district more than 200 people a day, mostly children and the elderly, were being treated for the disease, which has all the hallmarks of cholera but has not yet been formally identified.

ASIA

S. Korea Probes Massacre Charges

SEOUL--The South Korean government began an investigation into allegations that U.S. soldiers killed hundreds of Korean civilians in the early days of the Korean War.

The probe marked the first time government investigators held formal interviews with people who have long contended that retreating U.S. soldiers kept South Korean civilians under a railroad bridge at the hamlet of No Gun Ri and killed hundreds of them in July 1950.

China Releases Dissident After 3 Years

BEIJING--China released a prominent dissident at the end of a three-year labor camp sentence, which he had received without trial for writing a petition calling for the impeachment of China's president, a human rights group said.

Liu Xiaobo, 44, was released from an "education through labor" camp in the northeastern port city of Dalian, said the Hong Kong-based Information Center of Human Rights and Democratic Movement in China.

QUOTE OF THE DAY

The plant "had the safety standards of a bakery and not a nuclear facility. It was just a normal building."

-- Jan Rispens, an energy specialist with the environmental group Greenpeace, discussing problems at the site of last week's Japanese nuclear accident -- Page A21