THE MIDDLE EAST

American Hostages Identified

SANAA, Yemen--A teacher from Portland, Ore., and her parents have been identified as the three Americans kidnapped in Yemen by tribesmen demanding the release of 25 suspects detained in an attack on an oil pipeline.

Marta R. Colburn, who is based in the Yemeni capital, and her visiting parents, Don and Gladys Colburn, were abducted by gunmen as they returned to Sanaa on Tuesday from a trip to the southern part of the country, a security official said yesterday. Colburn works for the American Institute for Yemeni Studies in Sanaa, said an institute employee.

More Violence Plagues Bethlehem

BETHLEHEM--Violence plagued the biblical birthplace of Jesus for a third consecutive day, with 12 Palestinians wounded in clashes following the funeral of a Palestinian killed by an Israeli soldier.

Israeli soldiers fired rubber-coated bullets at a crowd returning from the funeral of Moussa Abu Ihaliel, killed Monday, after the crowd pelted them with rocks.

EUROPE

Mitchell Adjourns N. Ireland Peace Talks

BELFAST, Northern Ireland--Northern Ireland peace talks adjourned without any sign of a breakthrough, but political sources said U.S. mediator George Mitchell plans to resume negotiations today. The former U.S. senator and other negotiators were giving away little about the talks, apart from saying that serious efforts were being made to end the impasse.

Prime Minister Quits in Lithuania

VILNIUS, Lithuania--Upset over the state's sale of part of its oil company, Prime Minister Rolandas Paksas resigned, triggering a collapse of this tiny Baltic nation's government for the second time in six months.

President Valdas Adamkus, who cut short a visit to Canada to deal with the crisis, appointed outgoing Labor Minister Irena Degutiene as acting prime minister.

Paksas, 43, sparked a political revolt last week when he objected to the sale of a majority stake in the state-owned Mazeikiai Oil to U.S.-based Williams International. Despite his objections, the cabinet voted to accept the sale.

Prosecutor Seeks Milosevic's Arrest

SKOPJE, Macedonia--The new chief prosecutor of the Yugoslav war crimes tribunal said her top priority is the arrest and trial of Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic and two Bosnian Serb leaders.

Carla Del Ponte, a former Swiss federal prosecutor, was on her first tour of the Balkans since she succeeded Canada's Louise Arbour last month at the international court in The Hague.

Serbian Convoy Comes Under Attack

PRISTINA, Yugoslavia--A convoy of Serbs fleeing Kosovo under NATO escort came under attack in the western city of Pec, a U.N. refugee agency spokesman said.

The convoy of at least 150 people leaving the southwestern city of Orahovac was traveling to Montenegro when it was attacked by people who attempted to pull evacuees from the vehicles, U.N. refugee agency spokesman Peter Kessler said.

THE AMERICAS

Castro Yields to Governor's Request

HAVANA--President Fidel Castro granted a request from Illinois Gov. George Ryan (R) to fly a sick Cuban boy to the United States for medical treatment after the governor's ground-breaking visit to the communist-run island.

But Ryan, the first U.S. governor to visit Cuba since 1959, was less successful on a more politically delicate issue he raised with Castro--freeing the island's four best-known jailed dissidents.

Colombian Rebels Abduct Photographer

BOGOTA, Colombia--A Colombian freelance photographer who works regularly for the Reuters news agency has been abducted by leftist rebels who said they will put him on trial for revealing the identity of one of their regional commanders in a photograph.

Henry Romero, 42, was seized late Tuesday in mountains close to the southwest city of Cali by National Liberation Army rebels. In London, Reuters Editor-in-Chief Mark Wood deplored Romero's kidnapping and called for his immediate release.

Boat Sinks Off Mexico, 17 Feared Dead

MEXICO CITY--A boat carrying people hoping to illegally enter the United States sank off the southwestern Pacific coast of Mexico, and as many as 17 people may have drowned, according to local news reports. The government news agency, Notimex, said six bodies were pulled from the sea and five people were rescued after their boat sank in stormy seas near the Guatemalan border. It said that 22 people, possibly Central Americans, were believed to have been on board.

ASIA

Indonesia to Reopen Suharto Graft Probe

JAKARTA, Indonesia--Former president Suharto will be the subject of a renewed corruption inquiry, Indonesia's newly appointed attorney general said, providing another indication that the country's new government is little like the last.

U.S. Official Reassures China

BEIJING--A senior U.S. diplomat sought to ease Chinese fears about American plans for a sophisticated missile defense system, saying it would only be used to defend U.S. troops.

Speaking to China's leading training school for diplomats in Beijing, Undersecretary of State Thomas Pickering said no decision has been made to deploy the so-called theater missile defense "except where it is necessary to protect U.S. forces."

AFRICA

Fighting in Somalia Kills Six

MOGADISHU, Somalia--Fighting between militiamen in the Somali capital has killed six people and wounded 25, witnesses said. The fighting in north Mogadishu, which began Tuesday and continued throughout the night, pitted rival factions loyal to warlord Ali Mahdi Mohamed against each other. The reason for the battle was unclear, but two weeks ago two factions clashed over food.

QUOTE OF THE DAY

"The charges leveled against me are baseless."

-- Abdollah Nouri, a top reform leader in Iran accused of debasing Islam -- Page A30.