Ukraine Starts Reactor,

Plans to Open Another

KIEV, Ukraine -- Ukraine, where the world's worst nuclear accident occurred at Chernobyl in 1986, started a new atomic reactor Sunday, and a second reactor is set to open later this year, the Russian Tass news agency reported.

President Leonid Kuchma attended the start-up of reactor No. 2 at the Khmelnitskyi plant in western Ukraine. A new reactor at the Rivne nuclear power plant, also in the west, is set to be completed this year.

The European Union pledged to finance safety upgrades at both reactors with an $83 million loan, supplementing a $42 million program of the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development.

ASIA

* CHANDIGARH, India -- At least 20 construction workers were trapped in a tunnel in the state of Himachal Pradesh, about 300 miles north of New Delhi, after a torrential downpour. Waters receded in other parts of South Asia following the worst flooding in 15 years.

AFRICA

* JOHANNESBURG -- South African President Thabo Mbeki has hailed as historic the disbanding of the political party that introduced apartheid and enforced racial segregation for almost 50 years, national radio reported. The New National Party, renamed from the National Party in 1997, announced that it had decided to merge with the ruling African National Congress, the party it once banned and whose leaders it imprisoned.

* CAIRO -- The Arab League said it opposes sanctions against Sudan, which faces possible U.N. punitive measures if it does not rein in marauding Arab militias in its western Darfur region.

The 22-nation body said sanctions would "only result in negative effects for the whole Sudanese people and complicate the crisis in Darfur," in which as many as 50,000 people have been killed.

In a statement, Arab League ministers holding an emergency meeting on Darfur also rejected hints of any "forced foreign military intervention in the area."

THE MIDDLE EAST

* ANKARA, Turkey -- A man was killed and a second was badly wounded by the explosion of a bomb they were trying to plant at a police checkpoint in a mostly Kurdish region of southeastern Turkey, Turkish media reported.

THE AMERICAS

* BOGOTA, Colombia -- A small bomb exploded at a crowded flower festival in Medellin, Colombia's second largest city, injuring 35 people, including eight children and a police officer, the city's mayor said. The homemade device exploded on a bridge in the city center moments before a parade was to start, Mayor Sergio Fajardo said. There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the attack.

-- From News Services