EUROPE

Serbs to Reopen Montenegro Airport

PODGORICA, Yugoslavia--The Yugoslav army agreed to reopen Montenegro's main airport but warned that it was prepared to react with "determined measures" if the independence-minded republic tried again take over federal property.

Yugoslav troops seized the civilian portion of the Podgorica airport late Wednesday and canceled all flights. The move occurred one day before Montenegro's government planned to assume full control of the airport. Yesterday, however, the troops pulled back and allowed flights to resume.

The brief takeover by the Serb-led army was the latest sign of tension between the pro-Western government in Montenegro--the smaller of Yugoslavia's two republics--and Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic's government based in Serbia, the nation's dominant republic.

Russians Occupy Key Chechen Town

GEKHI-CHU, Russia--Russian forces hoisted their flag over the key Chechen town of Urus-Martan after weeks of heavy fighting and moved to consolidate their hold on the approaches to Chechnya's capital, Grozny. The Russian military says it has encircled Grozny, and while it does not plan to storm the heavily defended city, it has told civilians to leave by Saturday to avoid massive air and artillery strikes.

Ultranationalist Taken Off Ballot Again

MOSCOW--Russia's top election body once again struck Vladimir Zhirinovsky's Liberal Democratic Party of Russia off the ballot for this month's parliamentary vote, provoking an angry tirade from the ultranationalist lawmaker.

Two months ago, the Central Electoral Commission barred Zhirinovsky's party from running in the Dec. 19 election, saying leading LDPR candidates had lied on their income declarations. The committee later reinstated the party after the Supreme Court ruled that those infractions weren't sufficient to bar the party from the race.

But the presidium of the Supreme Court reversed that decision Wednesday, and the Central Election Commission followed suit yesterday.

AFRICA

Report Blasts Nigerian Leader's Record

LAGOS, Nigeria--A Nigerian human rights group said the abuse of citizens' rights was still widespread under elected President Olusegun Obasanjo despite attempts to correct past wrongs.

In its preliminary report on 1999 released to mark World Human Rights Day, the Constitutional Rights Project said Obasanjo's record had been particularly tainted by the action of soldiers in the country's volatile Niger Delta oil region.

Obasanjo, whose election in May ended 15 years of military rule in Africa's most populous country, last month ordered military action in the town of Odi in Bayelsa state, where armed youths had killed 12 policemen.

Aid Doctors Kidnapped in Sierra Leone

ABIDJAN, Ivory Coast--Two volunteers for the humanitarian group Doctors Without Borders, one German and one Belgian, have been taken captive in Sierra Leone by former rebels, the organization said.

The doctor and the logistics specialist, who had been working to open a health project, were taken captive Tuesday in the eastern Kailahun region controlled by former rebels of the Revolutionary United Front, the group said in a statement faxed to Abidjan.

THE AMERICAS

Colombian Journalist Flees Threats

BOGOTA, Colombia--A journalist at Colombia's El Tiempo newspaper has fled the country after receiving anonymous death threats and being branded a guerrilla "mouthpiece" by a senior army commander, the newspaper said.

Regional correspondent Carlos Pulgarin, formerly based in the northern city of Monteria, a stronghold of the country's right-wing paramilitary groups, left for an undisclosed destination Wednesday. He was the latest in a string of Colombian journalists threatened or killed this year.

Chavez Denounces Assassination Plot

CARACAS, Venezuela--President Hugo Chavez denounced an alleged plot by a Colombian paramilitary squad to assassinate him in a Venezuelan town near the two countries' border. The comments came just days after Cuban President Fidel Castro called a news conference in Havana to denounce a similar plot against Chavez, supposedly by a group of Cuban exiles in Miami.

Chavez, who once attempted a coup in Venezuela, was later elected and has since become one of Latin America's most controversial leaders. He traveled to the border town of San Cristobal in support of an upcoming constitutional referendum.

ASIA

Pakistan to Hold Local Elections

PESHAWAR, Pakistan--Pakistan's military-led government announced it would hold local elections next year, making good on a pledge to bring democracy to the grass-roots level. Minister for Local Government and Rural Development Umer Asghar Khan said fair and impartial elections to local bodies would be held by the end of 2000, but gave no specific date. Local bodies, which include municipal corporations and committees, have been elected on a non-party basis under previous governments for years.

China Expands Religious Sect Crackdown

BEIJING--Chinese authorities have detained 103 people who belong to non-mainstream Christian sects, expanding the state crackdown on groups it regards as cults, a human rights group said. Authorities targeted sects that mix Western Christian doctrines with elements taken from Chinese culture, the Hong Kong-based Information Center for Human Rights said.

New U.S. Envoy Arrives in Beijing

BEIJING--U.S. Ambassador Joseph Prueher, a former admiral who sent warships to bolster Taiwan against Chinese threats three years ago, arrived in Beijing to take up his post, which has been vacant for five tumultuous months in China-U.S. relations.

QUOTE OF THE DAY

"Yesterday, Clinton permitted himself to put pressure on Russia.

"It seems he has for a minute, for a second, for half a minute, forgotten that Russia has a full arsenal of nuclear weapons."

Russian President Boris Yeltsin, on U.S. criticism of Russian actions in Chechyna -- Page A35