Russia Attempts to Circle Chechen Capital

SLEPTSOVSKAYA, Russia--Russian forces are moving steadily to encircle Chechnya's capital and believe civilians will encourage Chechen militants to abandon the city rather than wage an all-out battle, Russia's top army officer said.

Russia pounded parts of Chechnya from the air and ground, with warplanes running about 50 combat missions in a 24-hour period, the Interfax news agency said. Fearful civilians continued their exodus from Chechnya.

So far, Russia's march across Chechnya, which began two months ago, has not produced major battles like those during the 1994-96 war in the breakaway territory. The outgunned Chechens have retreated rather than confront the larger and more heavily armed Russian formations.

Barricade Dismantled in Kosovo

ORAHOVAC, Yugoslavia--Easing a three-month standoff, anti-Russian protesters dismantled parts of a barricade surrounding this Kosovo town, allowing free passage on most roads for much-needed humanitarian aid.

Dozens of people knocked down tents and pushed trees, trucks and tractors off the road leading to Orahovac, which had been blocked to protest NATO's decision to station Russian forces in the southern town.

Spanish Court Disallows Gonzalez ProbeMADRID--Spain's Supreme Court ruled that the judge who secured the arrest of former Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet could not pursue criminal charges against former Spanish prime minister Felipe Gonzalez.

For the second time in three years, the court denied a request by Judge Baltasar Garzon for an investigation of Gonzalez for possible involvement in a "dirty war" against Basque separatists in the 1980s, officials said.


Canada Tries to Block Water Exports

OTTAWA--Canada moved to block large-scale water exports from the Great Lakes to prevent commercial interests from tapping the world's largest supply of fresh water.

Foreign Minister Lloyd Axworthy introduced legislation to outlaw bulk shipping from boundary waters between the United States and Canada in a move intended to help ensure the country's environmental health.

"Water has become a highly precious resource. There are some places where a barrel of water costs more than a barrel of oil," he said at a news conference.

Falling water levels in the United States and other countries have generated interest in tapping Canada's bountiful supplies of fresh water. The Great Lakes hold an estimated 20 percent of the world's fresh water reserves.


Dozens Killed in Niger Delta

LAGOS, Nigeria--Dozens of people have been killed in fighting since 2,000 soldiers were deployed to restore order in the oil-rich Niger Delta, officials said.

Government officials in the delta city of Port Harcourt, speaking on condition of anonymity, said 43 people, eight of them soldiers, have died since the army moved in Friday. Military officials did not provide casualty figures but said that number was exaggerated.

Villagers fleeing Odi in southern Bayelsa state said the trouble began after youths abducted four soldiers. Other soldiers who went after their comrades were ambushed. Several were killed and more were injured, local media reported.

Less than two weeks ago, President Olusegun Obasanjo said he would declare a state of emergency in Bayelsa if law and order were not restored. Obasanjo, whose election in February ended 15 years of military rule, has pledged to improve the lives of the people of the delta.

Fighting Intensifies in Burundi

DAR ES SALAAM, Tanzania--At least 3,500 Burundians are fleeing each week to northwestern Tanzania as fighting intensifies between the Burundian army and rebels, the U.N. refugee agency said.

"Basically, the situation has deteriorated dramatically in the last two months. Up to last week, at least 500 people a day were crossing the border," said Paul Stromberg, regional spokesman for the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees in neighboring Kenya.

Rebel attacks in and around Burundi's capital, Bujumbura, have risen sharply since the beginning of the year, prompting the minority Tutsi government to force tens of thousands of people, most of them majority Hutus, into camps to allow the army to sweep the area for rebels. Critics say the forced movement into camps is also to deprive rebels of access to relief food and other support.


Maps Blamed for Clash in Timor

UNITED NATIONS--The use of conflicting maps is one of the reasons given for a fatal clash between Australian-led troops and Indonesian forces last month on the border between East Timor and western Timor, which is part of Indonesia, said a report circulated at the United Nations. One Indonesian police officer was killed and another seriously injured in the Oct. 10 incident.

East Timor, whose inhabitants voted on Aug. 30 to end Indonesian rule, is being patrolled by an international force, pending a U.N. operation that will lead it to independence.

According to the report, other causes of the incident included: "inadequate coordination and communication" between the Australian-led troops and Indonesian troops and police; an "overreaction and inappropriate response by some" Indonesian personnel manning a border post; and "inaccuracies in maps and inadequate border markings."


* TEHRAN--Iran has rejected U.S. proposals to open a diplomatic interests section in Tehran, Iranian supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said.

* LONDON--British Foreign Secretary Robin Cook said Libya has handed over compensation for the 1984 killing of a British policewoman in London, removing the last obstacle to the restoration of full diplomatic relations.


"When you grow up with a particular denomination, you grow up reading and hearing about this place, and you sort of feel like you have to visit it. I know the Muslims have their pilgrimage to Mecca. I think for Christians it's the same way here."

-- Wiley Blevins, a Baptist from New York City, visiting Jerusalem --Page A1