Yesterday's World in Brief column misidentified Sri Lankan President Chandrika Bandaranaike as the mother of the country's prime minister. She is the prime minister's daughter. (Published 01/06/2000)
Suicide Bomber Kills 11 in Sri Lanka
COLOMBO, Sri Lanka--A bomb carried by a suicide attacker exploded early today near the office of Sri Lankan Prime Minister Sirimavo Bandaranaike, killing at least 11 people and wounding 24, police said.
"Two women constables and two policemen . . . a passerby and the suicide bomber were killed," a senior police official told reporters. The official said the four officers had just intercepted a woman whose movements they found suspicious when she detonated a bomb strapped to her body. There was no immediate claim of responsibility, but suspicion fell on Tamil separatist rebels who have been fighting for 16 years to create an independent homeland in northeastern Sri Lanka.
Last month, 14 people were killed and President Chandrika Bandaranaike Kumaratunga, the prime minister's mother, was slightly injured when a bomb exploded at an election rally. Seven people were killed in a second bombing soon afterward, and both were blamed on Tamil rebels.
Shortly after today's explosion, a prominent Tamil politician thought to be close to the rebels was shot dead in a Colombo suburb, police said. Kumar Ponnambalam was a lawyer and leader of the All Ceylon Tamil Congress.
THE MIDDLE EAST
Violence Escalates in Lebanon
BEIRUT--Lebanese troops engaged in house-to-house combat with Islamic extremists in two northern villages yesterday in a fifth day of escalating violence.
The fighting in the Dinniyah region, a mountainous area 60 miles north of Beirut, has left 11 soldiers and 10 civilians dead. An unknown number of militants also have been killed in the deadliest confrontation between the Lebanese military and Muslim guerrillas since the end of the 1975-90 civil war.
Electoral Ruling Backs Iran's Reformers
TEHRAN--In a victory for reformist clerics, Iran's parliament has rejected a bill introduced by hard-line members that sought to cancel a runoff in next month's key parliamentary elections, newspapers reported. The rejection on Monday came after strong opposition by reformist lawmakers who back moderate President Mohammed Khatemi in his struggle for power against conservative members of the ruling clergy.
The reformists said holding a second round of elections if the Feb. 18 ballot fails to yield clear-cut winners would hurt hard-liners who fare better in general elections than when they must run head-to-head with opposition candidates.
Chinese President to Visit Israel
JERUSALEM--Chinese President Jiang Zemin will make the first visit by a Chinese head of state to Israel, reflecting growing ties between the two countries, especially in weapons sales. Foreign Ministry spokesman Akiva Tur confirmed that the visit would take place but said no date has been set. The newspaper Haaretz said Jiang would come to Israel in the spring.
In recent months, the leader of the Chinese parliament, Li Peng, and Chinese Defense Minister Chi Haotian have visited Israel. Chi visited Israel Aircraft Industries and inspected weapons systems Israel is interested in selling to China.
Tourists Killed Near Angolan Border
WINDHOEK, Namibia--Uniformed gunmen opened fired on a family of French tourists in a rental car, killing three children and seriously wounding their father in a remote Namibian border region that has become embroiled in Angola's civil war, officials said.
The attack was one of at least three Monday that authorities blamed on UNITA rebels seeking money and food. The guerrilla organization denied responsibility and blamed Angolan troops.
Center-Left Gains in Croatian Elections
ZAGREB, Croatia--Croatia buried the ghost of president Franjo Tudjman as the country's main center-left opposition emerged victorious from parliamentary elections. Western diplomats said it was a triumph for democracy that could bring an end to the international isolation imposed on Croatia during Tudjman's fiercely nationalist rule.
Final results from Monday's election showed that an alliance of the reformed communist Social Democratic Party and the Social Liberals had won nine of the lower house's 11 multimember districts. The alliance will have 71 seats in a 152-seat assembly, and the victors have said they will form a coalition with a bloc of four centrist parties.
Party Official Requests Kohl's Resignation
BERLIN--Former chancellor Helmut Kohl faced the first call from among his party leadership to quit politics over a campaign financing scandal that has damaged his conservative Christian Democrats. Michael Luther, a deputy chairman of the Christian Democrats in Parliament, said in a statement: "It would be best for everyone if Helmut Kohl could decide to make an orderly exit from politics."
Kohl, 69, who headed the party for 25 years, has admitted accepting secret cash donations for the party while in office but has said he has no intention of quitting his seat in Parliament.
Argentina Refuses Extradition Requests
BUENOS AIRES--Argentina rejected a Spanish request for the extradition of 48 men accused of human rights abuses during the "dirty war" of the 1970s, saying their crimes were a matter for Argentine courts.
Senior members of the new center-left Alliance government that took power Dec. 10, and that includes top human rights campaigners, said Argentine courts were unlikely to agree to Spanish judge Baltasar Garzon's extradition requests.
Garzon has charged 98 military, police and civilian members of the juntas that ruled from 1976-83 with the kidnapping, torture and murder of 300 Spanish citizens.
Bogota Mob Storms Red Cross Offices
BOGOTA, Colombia--The International Committee of the Red Cross suspended all operations in Colombia after a mob of peasant refugees smashed their way into the organization's Bogota headquarters, then held 40 officials hostage for several hours before releasing all but four. The peasants, displaced from their homes by the country's long-running civil war, are demanding that the government and the Red Cross help them find new homes and provide them with health care and education.
QUOTE OF THE DAY
"He said simple words: 'Take care of Russia.'"
-- Acting Russian President Vladimir Putin, recalling former president Boris Yeltsin's parting words to him on the day Yeltsin resigned --Page A17.