EUROPE

Arkan Contact With U.N. Court Reported

PARIS--Lawyers and others claiming to represent indicted Serbian war crimes suspect Zeljko Raznatovic, who was assassinated in Belgrade on Saturday, approached the U.N. tribunal in The Hague several times in 1998 and 1999, tribunal spokesman Paul Risley said.

But, Risley said, "none of the contacts resulted in actual discussions with the office of the prosecutor regarding the surrender of Arkan," the nom de guerre by which Raznatovic was known. He was gunned down along with two of his bodyguards in a hotel lobby, and speculation on the motive of the killers has centered on negotiations Arkan reportedly was having with the tribunal.

According to the most prevalent theory, Arkan was killed by elements close to Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic--who was indicted by the tribunal last year--because he was threatening to give prosecutors information about Milosevic in exchange for leniency in the case against him. Senior NATO officials said there is still doubt about whether Arkan was killed by Milosevic allies or by a rival criminal gang.

Chile May Send Plane for Pinochet

LONDON--Britain told Chile yesterday that it could send an air force plane to London in case former dictator Augusto Pinochet is set free.

A British Defense Ministry spokesman said the Chilean plane was expected at Brize Norton, an air base northwest of London, this afternoon. Chilean air force officials said they were waiting for government approval to take off for Britain.

Amnesty International, meanwhile, presented its formal challenge to Pinochet's widely expected release, dismissing a medical opinion that the 84-year-old former dictator is too ill to be extradited to Spain to face human rights charges stemming from his rule in Chile.

THE AMERICAS

Gunmen Kill Seven Colombian Villagers

BOGOTA, Colombia--Gunmen dragged seven unarmed villagers from their homes yesterday and executed them in a village square in Cesar state, about 350 miles north of Bogota, police said. They said the gunmen arrived in the village with a list of names--a trademark of rightist paramilitary groups who have killed thousands of people they accuse of collaborating with leftist guerrillas.

The shootings were part of a surge of violence that erupted last weekend following the expiration last week of a holiday truce between government and guerrilla forces.

Meanwhile, at least 14 rural towns were without power, and authorities rationed electricity in Medellin, Colombia's second-largest city, after rebels blew up dozens of electric towers.

Officials said the energy shortage means that classes for more than than 650,000 Medellin school children will be suspended indefinitely.

Indians Block Highways in Ecuador

QUITO, Ecuador--Groups of Indians blocked highways in eight Ecuadoran provinces, the latest in a series of protests aimed at forcing the resignation of President Jamil Mahuad.

Security forces quickly cleared the roads of tree trunks and rocks, and there were no reports of clashes with the demonstrators, officials said.

Mahuad has been the target of increasing calls from across the political spectrum to resign because of his failure to stop Ecuador's economic decline.

AFRICA

Burundi Rebel Group Praises Mandela

NAIROBI--Burundi's main rebel group said that former South African president Nelson Mandela, the new mediator in the country's long-running civil war, already had brought peace closer. "Mandela's position is a great step forward for security for everybody," the group said.

Mandela launched a bid to end the war with an appeal on Sunday for the army to include all ethnic groups, and for armed rebel groups to be included in the peace process. The rebel group has previously rejected multi-party peace talks, arguing that the process was being obstructed by a host of small Tutsi parties with little support.

THE MIDDLE EAST

French Couple Recaptured in Yemen

SANAA, Yemen--A French couple released by Yemeni tribesmen was taken hostage again after authorities tried to arrest the kidnappers, a Yemeni official said.

The French husband and wife and two Yemeni guides were abducted Monday by members of the al-Shamlan tribe, who were demanding an increase in government schools and development projects. After reporting earlier in the day that the couple was heading safely back to the capital, officials said the army had now tightened its siege around the kidnappers' hideout.

ASIA

Rebel Arrested in Backpackers' Deaths

PHNOM PENH, Cambodia--Cambodia has arrested a former Khmer Rouge commander in the deaths of three Western backpackers in 1994, the first senior ex-rebel to be jailed after defecting to the government side.

Col. Chhouk Rin was taken into custody in southern Cambodia on Monday and is being held at Phnom Penh's T3 prison, said Gen. Sao Sokha, the military police chief. The three backpackers--an Australian, a Briton and a Frenchman--were abducted July 26, 1994, when a band of Khmer Rouge guerrillas ambushed their train en route from Phnom Penh to the seaside town of Sihanoukville.

Indonesian Police Fire Warning Shots

MATARAM, Indonesia--Police fired rubber bullets at protesters on Indonesia's Lombok Island, trying to contain the religious fighting that has sent tourists fleeing and the stock market plunging.

Security forces fired warning shots at Muslim protesters in Mataram, Lombok's largest city, to prevent them from reaching a police station where 500 Christians--many of them ethnic Chinese--had taken refuge, said police Sgt. Intan.

Dalai Lama Rebuts Chinese Assertion

NEW DELHI--The Reting Lama, an important monk in Tibetan Buddhism, has not yet been reborn, and the 2-year-old boy installed by China cannot be the true reincarnation, the Dalai Lama's office reported. The Dalai Lama told followers of the Reting Lama last month his mystical powers have produced no clues indicating that the soul of the abbot has been reborn, a spokesman for the Dalai Lama said.

QUOTE OF THE DAY

"I am afraid this conflict is our Ulster. It's for many years to come."

-- Anatoly Kulikov, the Russian commander in the 1994-96 war against Chechnya, comparing the conflict with Britain's decades-long battle in Northern Ireland --Page A1