Chinese Police Detain U.S. Citizen

BEIJING--Police in the southern city of Guangzhou detained a U.S. citizen who was meeting with Chinese followers of the banned Falun Gong sect, a U.S. official said today.

Jie Sun, a Chinese American software engineer and Falun Gong adherent from Colorado who recently was working in the Washington area, was detained Wednesday along 14 fellow practitioners, according to a friend of Sun's and a human rights group. The friend, Xiaowei Xia of Denver, said he received a frantic cell phone call from Sun after she was detained.

The U.S. State Department has been in contact with the Chinese Foreign Ministry about the detention, a U.S. consular spokesman said. U.S. officials were trying to determine if Sun has been released, he said. Police in Guangzhou refused to comment.

The Hong Kong-based Information Center of Human Rights and Democratic Movement in China said Sun, 36, was taken into custody along with one Swede, two Australians, and 11 Chinese citizens. Xia said Sun went to China between Oct. 31 and Nov. 7 in a show of support for the banned breathing and meditation group.

Indonesian Denies Abuses in Aceh

JAKARTA, Indonesia--Hauled before a parliamentary panel investigating human rights abuses in Aceh province, Indonesia's former military commander defiantly rejected accusations yesterday that he and other commanders ordered troops to commit mass killings and torture to crush an independence rebellion.

"It is not true at all that the central government and the military engineered any atrocities," said Gen. Wiranto, who stepped down as armed forces chief last month to join the cabinet of President Abdurrahman Wahid.

Wiranto also suggested the military might drop its controversial demand for martial law in the province. Other senior officers have warned that tough action was needed to stop the situation in Aceh, on the northern tip of Sumatra island, from spinning out of control.

U.N. Says 100,000 Return to East Timor GENEVA--More than 100,000 refugees have returned to East Timor, but militiamen continue to hamper repatriation despite a deal signed this week between Indonesia and U.N. forces, the U.N. refugee agency said.

In a statement, the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees said she hopes the establishment of a joint border commission agreed to on Monday would "produce a breakthrough in efforts to gain unimpeded access to the camps and halt harassment of returnees." Many refugees remain in camps in western Timor, part of an Indonesian province that borders the newly independent East Timor.

Meanwhile, the Jakarta Post reported today that investigators have dug up mass graves containing the bodies of 25 people allegedly killed by anti-independence militias and Indonesian troops in East Timor.

China to Ratify Test Ban, Official Says

BEIJING--China still intends to ratify the global treaty banning nuclear tests, despite the U.S. Senate's rejection of the pact, China's top arms control official was quoted as saying.

Sha Zukang said the treaty had no hope of ever coming into effect without American approval, the state-run New China News Agency reported.

Sharif's Brother Charged in Pakistan

KARACHI, Pakistan--The younger brother of former Pakistani prime minister Nawaz Sharif was accused of treason and hijacking, the attorney general of southern Sindh province said.

Shahbaz Sharif and two other Sharif loyalists--Saif Rehman, ex-chief of the anti-corruption unit, and Saeed Mehdi, a senior bureaucrat--appeared in an anti-terrorist court in Karachi. They were ordered to remain in police custody until today.


Yugoslav Government Blocks Heating Oil

BELGRADE--Hundreds of tons of badly needed heating oil destined for two cities run by opponents of President Slobodan Milosevic remained blocked near the Yugoslav border.

Yugoslavia's customs authorities, citing technical problems, held up the shipment of some 350 tons of oil, said Zoran Zivkovic, mayor of Nis, one of the opposition-run towns.

Bosnian Serb Enters Plea in The Hague

THE HAGUE--A Bosnian Serb general accused of conducting the slaughter of thousands of Muslim civilians in 1995 pleaded innocent to two additional war crimes charges before a U.N. tribunal.

Gen. Radislav Krstic, 51, commanded Bosnian Serb soldiers who carried out the killings in the U.N.-protected "safe haven" of Srebrenica in eastern Bosnia during the 3 1/2-year war.


Iran Arrests Group of Extremists

TEHRAN--Iran's Intelligence Ministry said it has crushed a group of violent religious extremists, thwarting plans to assassinate President Mohammed Khatemi and other top officials.

The official Iranian news agency quoted the ministry as saying it arrested all 34 members of the radical Shiite Muslim Mahdaviat movement in connection with a planned campaign of political and sectarian violence. It said 20 were later freed.

Ranking Chinese Official Visits Israel

JERUSALEM--China's second-most powerful figure, Li Peng, began a six-day visit to Israel that is likely to showcase close relations underpinned by heavy Israeli military sales to Beijing.

Li, chairman of the National People's Congress, is the highest-ranking Chinese official to visit Israel since diplomatic relations were established in 1992, according to an Israeli government statement.


Nigerian Ethnic Groups Clash in Lagos

LAGOS, Nigeria--Members of Nigeria's two biggest ethnic groups clashed in the commercial capital of Lagos, killing at least 27 people, police said.

The bodies of the victims, some of them burned, lay on the streets of the suburb Ketu, where members of the Hausa and Yoruba groups continued to fight after armed riot police moved in to quell disturbances.


"People really believe in this place. I was at the point of deciding to stay in America for good, to become an American, buy a house, and be like everybody else."

-- Abdi Hakin Saeed, who returned to Somaliland last year after 13 years in the United States.