Brazil Moves to Destroy Marijuana Fields

BRASILIA--The government ordered 1,500 soldiers and police to destroy illegal crops in one of Latin America's top marijuana-growing regions, the largest drug eradication effort Brazil has ever undertaken.

The operation will begin in 30 days when troops sent to the country's impoverished northeast will torch fields dotting a swath of land bigger than Connecticut. Authorities also will seek to regain control of the area and impose order.

While Brazil has been spared much of the drug-related violence suffered by neighboring cocaine-producing countries, its booming marijuana industry has affected 25 municipalities in the northeast.

Mexico to Require Deposit From Motorists

MEXICO CITY--Mexico will begin collecting deposits of up to $800 for U.S.-registered cars crossing the border next week, officials said, defending a program that has come under strong criticism on both sides of the border. More than 350 workers have fanned out to the 12 largest border-crossing points to prepare for Wednesday's start, Treasury Ministry officials said. The government says the move is necessary to prevent the illegal importation of cars, which often are cheaper in the United States, and to protect the domestic auto industry.


Peace Agreement Signed in Sudan

CAIRO--Sudan's government signed a peace agreement with an exiled opposition party, promising to establish a "democratic regime" in the country and to end a 16-year civil war within four years.

Sudan Television reported that the agreement with the Umma Party was signed in the East African country Djibouti, where Sudanese President Lt. Gen. Omar Hassan Bashir and exiled Umma Party leader Sadiq Mahdi held unannounced talks on Thursday.

An estimated 2 million people have died in Sudan's civil war, many from war-related famine, and hundreds of thousands have been driven from their homes.

Nigerian Police Fight to Stop Tribal Battle

LAGOS, Nigeria--Charred corpses lay where they fell on Lagos streets as jittery police fought to contain ethnic rioting that has killed at least 45 and raised questions about Nigeria's future. The clashes between Nigeria's two biggest tribes, southern Yorubas and northern Hausas, are the latest bloodshed since President Olusegun Obasanjo took office in May to end 15 years of crippling military rule in Africa's most populous country.


Norwegian Ferry Sinks in North Sea

OSLO--A Norwegian passenger ferry with 88 people aboard sank in stormy weather in the North Sea, leaving at least 11 people dead and 12 missing.

The Sleipner catamaran ferry was en route from Stavanger to Bergen when it sank in the dark after hitting rocks near Haugesund in western Norway, the nation's rescue service said.

Eldbjoerg Vaage, of the Norwegian Rescue Coordination Center at Sola, said 65 survivors had been accounted for, including some suffering serious cases of hypothermia. Vaage said near-freezing water, strong winds and waves of up to 20 feet were hampering rescue efforts.

Tudjman's Powers Transferred in Croatia

ZAGREB, Croatia--Croatia's highest court effectively stripped President Franjo Tudjman of his powers, ruling that the man who led his country to independence eight years ago was too ill to perform his duties. The decision transferred power to the speaker of parliament, Vlatko Pavletic, for 60 days.

Tudjman, 77, who for years has been rumored to be suffering from cancer, underwent emergency intestinal surgery on Nov. 1 and has remained hospitalized ever since.


Few Survived Sinking of Chinese Ferry

BEIJING--Just 22 of more than 300 passengers and crew aboard a Chinese ferry that caught fire and capsized managed to find a lifeboat or rope in the icy, storm-pounded sea and make it to safety, authorities said. Scores of bodies washed ashore after the Dashun ferry sank Wednesday night off the northeastern Chinese port of Yantai, and authorities confirmed that more than 150 had died.

With gale-force winds and relentless snow falling around the wreckage, Yantai officials said there was little hope of finding more survivors.

American Expelled From Chinese City

BEIJING--A detained American follower of the banned Falun Gong spiritual movement was expelled from the southern Chinese city of Guangzhou along with three other foreigners, but 13 Chinese citizens arrested with them remain in custody.

Jie Sun, the American, and the others were arrested at a residence early Wednesday morning as they finished plans for a risky "experience sharing" news conference to protest the Chinese government's crackdown on the group, Sun said in an interview. Police then sent Sun, two Australians and a Swede across the border into Hong Kong.

More than 100 Chinese followers of the exercise and meditation group had gathered in Guangzhou to prepare for the event, which was canceled after at least 30 of the group's members were rounded up in several locations around the city, Sun said.

U.N. to Investigate Timor Killings

DILI, East Timor--A top U.N. official promised to investigate the slaying of 25 East Timorese, including three Roman Catholic priests, whose bodies were found in mass graves in the western Timor region of Indonesia. "We will follow up on all the evidence found in West Timor," said Sonia Picado, who heads the U.N. human rights inquiry in East Timor.

The killings, which occurred Sept. 6 in two churches in the town of Suai, are considered the deadliest incident to have occurred during the three-week militia rampage that followed East Timor's Aug. 30 vote for independence from Jakarta.

Case Against Pakistani Leader Extended

KARACHI, Pakistan--Pakistani prosecutors won a one-week extension of a deadline for bringing treason and hijacking charges against deposed prime minister Nawaz Sharif. Sharif, who has been in custody since the Oct. 12 military coup that toppled his government, was ordered to return to jail. He will be back in court on Dec. 4.


"The war is entering its decisive phase."

--Shamil Basayev, Chechen rebel commander