Britain Plans Major Cuts

Of Troops in N. Ireland

BELFAST -- The British army will slash its garrison in Northern Ireland to peacetime levels, demolish spy towers in Catholic areas and disband its overwhelmingly Protestant local battalions within two years, commanders said Monday.

The announcement of the cuts came as a decisive response to the Irish Republican Army's promise last week to disarm fully and cease violence.

Lt. Gen. Redmond Watt said Britain would cut troop levels by more than half to a maximum of 5,000 at 14 bases within two years, while scores of installations -- iron-walled fortresses that the outlawed IRA spent a generation toiling in vain to destroy -- would be dismantled within months.

The Middle East

* CAIRO -- Egyptian police cornered a main suspect in the Sharm el-Sheikh bombings in his mountain hideout and killed him in a shootout that also fatally wounded his wife, authorities said.

A police official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the couple's 4-year-old daughter was wounded.

Police hunting Mohammed Saleh Flayfil, 30, a Bedouin also wanted in last year's bomb attacks at the Taba resort in the Sinai, discovered evidence "that elements involved in these attacks were hiding out in a quarry in Mount Ataqaa," 17 miles east of the Cairo-Suez highway, the Interior Ministry said.


* BISHKEK, Kyrgyzstan -- A prosecutor said Kyrgyzstan would send 15 Uzbek asylum seekers back to their home country, despite pleas from the United Nations and rights groups that the move would violate international treaties on refugees.

The announcement of the intended repatriations came after weeks of behind-the-scenes diplomacy about the fate of hundreds of Uzbeks who fled to neighboring Kyrgyzstan in May after Uzbek security forces violently suppressed an uprising in an eastern city. The prosecutor's office has said it has evidence that the 15 were involved in crimes.

The Americas

* BRASILIA -- The head of Brazil's government-allied Liberal Party resigned from Congress and admitted he had received money from the ruling Workers' Party, which is embroiled in a bribes-for-votes scandal.

Valdemar Costa Neto, who remains the leader of the Liberal Party of Vice President Jose Alencar, said he used the money to pay for campaign costs in 2002. He denied he was bribed to vote for the government's bills in Congress.

"I announce that I give up my federal deputy's mandate," Costa Neto said. "I acknowledge that I made a mistake when I accepted funds destined for campaigning without the necessary documents that would make the donation official."

* BOGOTA, Colombia -- A roadside bomb exploded as a police convoy traveled down a rural highway in northern Colombia, killing at least 11 officers, President Alvaro Uribe said. He did not blame any of Colombia's insurgent groups for the attack.

-- From News Services