Russia Claims to Repel Chechen Raids
GUDERMES, Russia--Russian forces claimed to have killed about 140 Chechens in street fighting in Grozny and stopped a series of rebel counterattacks in the shattered city.
Russian efforts to take the Chechen capital appear to be bogged down, with the rebels mounting stiff resistance and pushing back Russian troops in some areas. The Russian military command said that the Chechens launched three counterattacks this week but that they had been defeated. "We shall destroy them in the near future," said Maj. Gen. Vladimir Shamanov.
But Chechen commanders insisted their forces were holding their ground. "Russian groups have not moved a single meter deeper into the city over the past day," Isa Munayev, the rebel commander in Grozny, was quoted as saying by the Interfax news agency.
Instrument Failure Cited in Korean Crash
LONDON--A vital navigation instrument failed just moments before last month's Korean Air cargo plane crash near London, an interim report into the tragedy showed. A problem had developed with the attitude director indicator (ADI), which gives the exact position of the aircraft at night and in bad weather, the report said.
An engineer worked on the flaw before the Boeing 747-200 took off from Stansted Airport for its ill-fated flight on Dec. 22 in which all four Korean crew members were killed. The report also said the ADI equipment had failed on the plane's previous flight.
"It's premature to say we've established a cause," David King of the Air Accident Investigations agency, who wrote the report, told Sky Television. "We're in the process of trying to explain why it happened--we've got as far as understanding what happened, but we've still got quite a way to go," he said.
Kosovo Men Freed From Serbian Jails
BELGRADE--Four Kosovo Albanian men, held in Serbian jails since July 1998 on terrorism charges, were freed after the case against them was dismissed, a human rights lawyer said.
"I was very surprised. It was a rare case, really, because they were released of all the charges," said Radovan Dedijer, a lawyer from Belgrade's Humanitarian Law Fund, which attends the trials of some 2,000 Kosovo Albanians now jailed in Serbia.
The four men were escorted back to Kosovo by the International Red Cross, the fund said.
Manhunt on for Killers of French Youths
WINDHOEK, Namibia--Namibian security forces have crossed into neighboring Angola in pursuit of the suspected killers of two French girls, ages 10 and 15, and their 18-year-old brother, state radio said.
France, meanwhile, has decided to conduct its own inquiry into the ambush of the Bidoin family, which occurred Monday evening as they drove through a conflict zone.
Uniformed gunmen are accused of executing the three Bidoin siblings after the attack that left their parents wounded.
The assailants' tracks led from the remote Caprivi Strip, where the attack occurred, into Angola, the Namibian Broadcasting Corp. said.
35 Slain in Street Fighting in Nigeria
LAGOS, Nigeria--Armed youths from rival ethnic groups fought pitched street battles in two Nigerian cities, killing an estimated 35 people, witnesses said.
The clashes occurred Wednesday in Lagos, the commercial capital, and Ibadan, about 60 miles to the north.
It was not immediately clear whether the incidents were linked. Both pitted members of Nigeria's largest ethnic groups, Yoruba and Hausa, against each other.
Chinese Defy Pope, Ordain Bishops
VATICAN CITY--In open defiance of Pope John Paul II, China's state-controlled Catholic church ordained five new bishops without Vatican approval--a ceremony timed to upstage the pontiff's elevation of 12 prelates in St. Peter's Basilica.
China and the Vatican broke formal relations in 1951, when the Communists kicked out missionaries and forced Catholics to sever ties with Rome.
China's officially sanctioned church does not recognize papal authority, including the right to appoint bishops, and it chose the Jan. 6 Epiphany holiday, the traditional day when the pope ordains bishops, for its own ceremony in Beijing's cathedral.
700 Detained After Sri Lanka Bombing
COLOMBO, Sri Lanka--The parents and sister of a suicide bomber who killed 13 people were among more than 700 Tamils detained in a two-day roundup by Sri Lankan police, officials said today.
All will be questioned about their possible involvement in Wednesday's bombing outside the prime minister's office, authorities said.
The sweep, involving 4,500 police, began yesterday, with 200 people arrested, and continued today with 500 more detentions. Citing national security, police barred people from leaving or entering Colombo, Dehiwalla or Mount Lavinia until this afternoon.
Cambodia Pushes for Khmer Rouge Trials
PHNOM PENH, Cambodia--Despite U.N. concerns, the Cambodian cabinet gave quick approval to a plan to try surviving Khmer Rouge leaders for genocide with limited international oversight. The plan must still be ratified by the parliament.
Hours before the cabinet backed Prime Minister Hun Sen's plan, U.N. counsel Hans Corell warned that requirements for Cambodian and foreign jurists to agree on indictments and rulings "would lead to paralysis."
Cabinet Minister Sok An left open the possibility of further input from the United Nations but said the plan took into account the U.N. complaints.
THE MIDDLE EAST
Egypt Arrests 4 Men in Christians' Deaths
CAIRO--Police arrested four Muslims on charges of killing nine Christians during sectarian violence in southern Egypt over the weekend, the Interior Ministry said.
Two suspects were captured in the hills near the village of el-Kusheh, 275 miles south of Cairo, where much of the violence occurred. The other two were arrested in the village.
The violence began Dec. 31 following an argument between a Christian shopkeeper and a Muslim customer. Looting and arson continued until Sunday, when villagers fought with guns and knives. Some 20 people were killed.
QUOTE OF THE DAY
"He's not an ex-president; he's not a former president. He's the first president of Russia, and he'll always be."
-- Dimtri Yakushkin, spokesman for Boris Yeltsin -- Page A1