ASIA

Gunmen Kill 2 Afghan Security Escorts

KABUL, Afghanistan -- Two Afghan security men were killed and one was wounded yesterday when attackers fired at a vehicle escorting a U.N. refugee agency convoy in eastern Afghanistan, the local head of the U.N. agency said.

Afghan soldiers later killed one of the attackers and arrested another, an aide to the local military commander said. No U.N. employees were hurt.

Filippo Grandi, head of the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees in Afghanistan, said the attack occurred at 10 a.m., about 20 miles southwest of Jalalabad as four UNHCR vehicles took part in a routine monitoring mission, guarded by one escort vehicle.

Reuters

EUROPE

'Problems' Cited for Not Arresting Suspect

BELGRADE -- Despite warnings that Yugoslavia risks losing U.S. financial aid and international support, a government minister said there were "several problems involving the arrest" of former Bosnian Serb commander Gen. Ratko Mladic, who is wanted by a U.N. war crimes tribunal.

Mladic was indicted by the war crimes court in The Hague on charges arising from the killing of more than 7,000 men and boys in the Bosnian Muslim enclave of Srebrenica in July 1995. He is believed to be hiding in Serbia, Yugoslavia's dominant republic.

"It is questionable whether our forces have the ability to arrest him without serious incidents," Foreign Minister Goran Svilanovic said. "The question is, do we have adequate resources for that?"

Svilanovic implied that attempts to arrest Mladic could result in a bloody fight between police and bodyguards of the former Bosnian Serb commander. War crimes investigators have said that Mladic is hiding in Serbia, protected by dozens of heavily armed bodyguards, some of them believed to be linked to the Yugoslav military.

Associated Press

Spill Kills Hundreds of Birds Off Belgium

BRUSSELS -- Hundreds of dead, oil-stained birds washed ashore over the weekend as an oil spill from a sunken cargo ship in the English Channel approached Belgian beaches.

About 3,000 gallons of heavy fuel oil leaked from the Tricolor cargo ship, which sank Dec. 14, creating an oil slick more than two miles long and 160 yards wide. Soldiers were put on standby to clear the beaches of oil in anticipation of the slick reaching shore.

Rough weather prevented efforts to combat the slick at sea and much of the spill was breaking up into clots drifting toward the Belgian coast. Over the past three days, hundreds of birds were found dead on the beaches, covered in heavy oil. Environmental protection officials said many more had died at sea.

Associated Press

FOR THE RECORD

Fires burning for weeks in southeast Australia's rugged mountains hit villages, destroying at least 16 homes and threatening hundreds more. But a government environmental official said that given the weather -- 43 mph winds and temperatures over 104 degrees -- the destruction could have been much worse. . . . Zimbabwe has arrested five foreign journalists for allegedly entering the southern African country under false pretenses, and might charge them under tough media and security laws, police said. The journalists, whose names and media affiliations were not available, are from the United States, Finland, Kenya and Germany.