U.N. Approves Preparation

Of Peacekeepers for Sudan

UNITED NATIONS -- The U.N. Security Council unanimously approved a resolution authorizing preparations for a U.N. peacekeeping operation in southern Sudan and calling for a halt to fighting in Sudan's western Darfur region.

The resolution welcomed the June 5 signing of a power-sharing declaration by the Sudanese government and southern rebels, settling the administration of three disputed areas in central Sudan and committing to a peace deal.

The deal cleared up political issues blocking a final accord to end Sudan's 21-year civil war. The two sides must now negotiate the details of a comprehensive cease-fire and a timeline for implementing it.

The Security Council urged the government and southern rebels to reach an agreement "speedily" in talks slated to start June 22. Once a final deal is signed, the council said Secretary General Kofi Annan should quickly make recommendations on the size, structure and mandate of the peacekeeping operation.

In the meantime, the resolution authorizes the United Nations to start preparing critical supplies and personnel to facilitate rapid deployment of the mission.

Asia

* ISLAMABAD, Pakistan -- Pakistani troops pounded suspected al Qaeda hideouts and a training facility with artillery, mortar and small arms fire in a third day of violence in a lawless tribal region near the Afghan border.

The army said it had killed 35 insurgents. Fifteen security forces were killed in an attack on a checkpoint on Wednesday, the first day of the fighting, army spokesman Gen. Shaukat Sultan said. Residents said a number of civilians have been killed.

On Saturday in a town located close to the fighting, a homemade bomb exploded outside the house of a senior paramilitary official, killing one of his guests and wounding two guards and two others, according to police and witnesses.

* KABUL, Afghanistan -- Authorities on Friday arrested two suspects and were seeking three others in Thursday's killing of 11 Chinese workers in northern Afghanistan, the deadliest attack on foreign civilians since the fall of the Taliban in late 2001.

Meanwhile, in Paktika province, about 150 miles south of Kabul, insurgents launched a barrage of rockets at a heavily guarded convoy of U.N. and Afghan officials and American military officers but caused no injuries.

Africa

* GOMA, Congo -- Two crowded boats collided on a lake straddling the Congo-Rwanda border and one of them capsized with dozens believed trapped aboard, relief officials said. Three bodies were recovered from Lake Kivu, but all 80 aboard the sunken boat were feared dead, a Red Cross official said.

* LAGOS, Nigeria -- Labor groups representing millions of Nigerian workers abandoned a crippling three-day general strike, ending a protest that had shut down businesses and threatened oil exports from Africa's petroleum giant.

-- From News Services