THE MIDDLE EAST Secular Candidates Have Edge in Bahrain MANAMA, Bahrain -- Secular candidates won a slight majority over Islamic candidates in voting for 21 seats in Bahrain's parliament, while two women who had hoped to make history by getting elected both lost, according to preliminary results announced yesterday.

Those results showed that 12 secularists and nine Islamic candidates won seats, making the 40-seat legislature representative of the tiny kingdom's political spectrum.

The first round of parliamentary elections, the first in Bahrain in nearly 30 years, was held last week.

Associated PressAFRICA Government Says Coup Attempt Put Down BANGUI, Central African Republic -- The government here claimed to have put down a coup attempt by rebels backing an ousted army chief of staff.

In a statement broadcast on national radio, government spokesman Gabriel Koyambounou said soldiers from the central African nation's small, poorly equipped army had quelled the uprising that began last Friday.

"Calm has really and truly returned to Bangui since the Central African armed forces have retaken all the areas held by the aggressors," the statement said.

Earlier reports from Bangui residents indicated that the fighters battling the rebel forces of former Gen. Francois Bozize were chiefly Libyan troops and rebels from neighboring Congo.

In Washington, the Pentagon said it had sent a small military assessment team from Germany to the Central African Republic. The team was dispatched to assess the security situation "in the event that we may need to take any action to evacuate or protect U.S. citizens," said Army Maj. Bill Bigelow, spokesman for the U.S. European Command in Stuttgart.

Fewer than 150 U.S. citizens live in the Central African Republic, defense officials said.

Associated PressASIA Police Make Progress in Bali Blast Probe JAKARTA, Indonesia -- Indonesian police said they were making headway in their hunt for one of three suspects in the deadly Oct. 12 bombing in Bali that killed nearly 200 people, while a lawyer for the alleged leader of a Southeast Asian terror network said he would not answer questions from police.

Deputy police spokesman Edward Aritonang said investigators were checking the name and address of one suspect, but he refused to release other details.

Police, who released sketches of three Indonesian suspects on Wednesday, said they were looking for 10 others and expected to release further details today.

But they are having less luck persuading Muslim cleric Abubakar Bassyir to cooperate.

Bassyir is believed to be the spiritual leader of Jemaah Islamiah, a group with suspected links to al Qaeda. The organization is believed to be behind the Bali blast.

Associated Press