ASIA

China Launches Unmanned Spacecraft

BEIJING--China completed its first unmanned spacecraft launch today, state news media reported, in preparation for putting astronauts in space.

The spacecraft Shenzhou was launched yesterday by a new model of the Long March rocket at the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center in northwest China. After 21 hours in space, it touched down smoothly in north China this morning, the state-run New China News Agency said.

China has been secretly developing a manned space flight program since 1992, and Western experts had said an unmanned test flight was expected. A Chinese expert said today that China plans more of these unmanned test flights before sending up astronauts.

The Chinese-made spaceship detached itself from the launching vehicle and entered orbit 10 minutes after takeoff, guided by China's newly built space control network, the report said.

N. Korea Proposes Joint Massacre Inquiry

SEOUL--North Korea proposed yesterday that it form a joint team with rival South Korea to investigate allegations that U.S. soldiers killed hundreds of civilians during the Korean War.

The U.S. and South Korean probe currently underway is "a deceptive trick to put down the wrath and anti-American feelings" and "designed to cover up the crimes and flee from responsibility," North Korea's committee in charge of relations with South Korea said in the unusual proposal.

North Korea said it sent the proposal to South Korean civil organizations, indicating it would prefer to deal with them rather than the South Korean government, which the North calls a U.S. puppet. Civil groups in Seoul said they had yet to receive it.

The Associated Press reported in September that U.S. Army veterans, corroborating the accounts of Korean villagers, said their unit killed hundreds of civilians at the hamlet of No Gun Ri in July 1950.

Bomb in Pakistani Market Kills Five

LAHORE, Pakistan--A bomb exploded in a congested market in the old quarter of Lahore in northern Pakistan, killing five people and injuring 18 others, police said.

Two children were among the dead, officials said. There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the explosion, which badly damaged three shops and shattered the windows of several stores. The bomb was rigged to a bicycle outside a small shop, police said.

Intelligence officials said that similar bombs were planted earlier this year in two other cities in eastern Punjab province, bordering India. There was no indication that this explosion was linked to recent rocket attacks in Islamabad aimed at U.S. and U.N. facilities, officials said.

THE MIDDLE EAST

Latest Turkish Quake's Death Toll at 705

ISTANBUL--A day after the search for survivors was called off, bulldozers moved in yesterday to cart away the wreckage from the Nov. 12 earthquake that killed at least 705 people in Turkey.

The death toll has increased by almost 100 since Friday, and was expected to rise as more bodies are recovered from under the piles of concrete.

"A lot of families pulled out their dead themselves and have taken them away to bury them in villages where they were born," said Ahmet Cekic, a local official in Duzce. "Those numbers will also slowly be added up."

More than 5,000 people were injured and 750 buildings destroyed in the 7.2-magnitude quake that hit the northwestern town of Duzce, the government's crisis center said.

Ancient Palace Discovered in Syria

DAMASCUS, Syria--Archaeologists have discovered the ruins of a royal palace believed to be 4,000 years old near Damascus, the Syrian Arab News Agency reported.

It said "highly valued ruins" were discovered by a joint German, Italian and Syrian expedition in Qatana, about 12 miles southwest of the Syrian capital.

The palace dates back to 2000 B.C., the news agency said. It did not give a more precise year or say which ruler built it. Historians believe that the Amorites, who came from the Arabian peninsula around 2100 B.C., were the first important Semitic settlers in the area, and that they established many small states.

EUROPE

Novelist Abandons London Mayoral Bid

LONDON--British millionaire novelist Jeffrey Archer has abandoned his bid to become mayor of London after a former friend sold him out to the tabloid press over a 13-year-old scandal.

Newspapers savaged Archer, branding him a shameful liar for his confession--prompted by a report in a Sunday tabloid--that he asked a friend to lie to lawyers to help him cover up the fact he was having dinner in a restaurant with a "close female friend."

In a statement saying he was abandoning the race, Archer said he had asked television producer Ted Francis to lie and say he was having dinner with him in 1986 to protect the identity of the woman he was with.

QUOTE OF THE DAY

"We need a new vision. The liberator has become a liability."

-- Morgan Tsvangirai, Zimbabwean opposition party leader, speaking about President Robert Mugabe

CAPTION: A police officer examines the site of a bomb blast in the northern Pakistani city of Lahore. No one has claimed responsibility for the attack, which killed five, including two children, and injured 18.