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Chinese officials said yesterday they probably would punish at least seven African students for a brawl with Chinese workers, students, and teachers that set off days of anti-black demonstrations. They said no Chinese students would be punished for participating in clashes. Yang Ruiju, president of Hehai University where the violence erupted, said yesterday the African students planned a Christmas Eve attack on Chinese university officials that injured 11 Chinese.

The conflict erupted over the Africans' association with Chinese women.

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Japan premier won't fire scandal-tainted minister

Prime Minister Noboru Takeshita said yesterday that he would keep his new justice minister despite the man's history of donations from a company at the center of a stock scandal. Opposition parties demanded the resignation of Takashi Hasegawa because he has admitted receiving donations for 12 years from Recruit Company which his office is probing for suspected bribery. Mr. Hasegawa said he had been unaware until Wednesday of the donations.

Kipnapped French sisters freed by captors in Libya

Two French sisters held 13 months by Abu Nidal's Palestinian terrorist group arrived yesterday in Benghazi, Libya, and will be turned over to French authorities, the state-run Libyan news agency JANA reported. Marie-Laure, 7, and her six-year-old sister Virginie, were seized with their mother Jacqueline Valente and five Belgians aboard their yacht in the Mediterranean.

JANA said the release was in response to a Christmas appeal made by Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi.

Israeli raid destroys Amal base in Lebanon

Two Israeli helicopter gunships attacked with rockets and destroyed a base of the Shiite Muslim militia Amal in southern Lebanon yesterday. Police said eight people were wounded. The Israeli Army said yesterday's raid was conducted to eliminate an Amal base used by Palestinian guerrillas who raided northern Isreal Wednesday.

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Soviets halve estimate of deaths in earthquake

Soviet officials indicated yesterday that the final death toll from the Armenian earthquake will be about half the previous estimate of 55,000 people. Yuri Chaplygin, a spokesman for the Council of Ministers, the Soviet Cabinet, said that 24,854 people were confirmed dead as of Wednesday.

Bush vows to punish Pan Am plane bombers

President-elect Bush vowed yesterday to firmly punish those responsible for the ``cowardly'' bombing of a Pan American jetliner. When asked for his response to the conclusion that a bomb caused the Dec. 21 crash, Mr. Bush pledged to ``seek hard and punish firmly, decisively, those who did this.'' Meanwhile deputy Israeli foreign minister Binyamin Netanyahu, in a news conference yesterday, implied that by dealing with the PLO the US could bear partial responsibility for the Pan Am incident, assuming its perpetrators turn out to be Palestinian.(Terrorist groups and Pan Am bombing, Page 7.)

Brazilian brothers caught as suspects in murder

Two sons of a cattle rancher who favored clearing the Amazon rain forest for grazing have been arrested in connection with the killing of an ecologist who fought to preserve the rain forest, according to police. Brothers Aleci and Oloci Alves da Silva were captured after a gun battle with police Tuesday, a Brazilian official said.

The ecologist, Francisco Mendes, organized jungle workers to try to stop destruction of the rain forest by plantation owners.

Cubans start celebration of revolution anniversary

Cuba launched a week-long celebration of the 30th anniversary of the Cuban Revolution Wednesday. Activities began when thousands paid tribute to leading revolutionary hero, Ernesto `Ch'e' Guevara, in the dedication of a monument to his memory. Anniversary celebrations will continue until Jan. 4.

The high point is expected Sunday in the eastern city of Santiago de Cuba when President Fidel Castro gives a speech.

Efforts collapse to solve a killing in El Salvador

Efforts to solve the 1980 murder of Archbishop Oscar Arnulfo Romero have collapsed due to right-wing pressure, former Attorney General Roberto G'iron Flores said Wednesday. Mr. G'iron Flores accused the rightist Nationalist Republican Alliance of sabotaging the case because a breakthrough was near that would implicate senior party members, notably its founder, Roberto D'Aubuisson.

G'ion Flores was removed from his job by the rightist-controlled National Assembly last week.

The government rolled back huge price increases yesterday after a general strike cut off communications, shut down a main airport and seaport, and virtually paralyzed major cities, reports said. Police fired on antigovernment demonstrators in Khartoum who continued to press for greater reforms after hearing that the government had agreed to cut prices, Egypt's Middle East News Agency reported. A clash was also reported in Baghdad.

There was no word on casualties in either incident, the first reported violence in three days of protests in this financially strapped northeast African country.

The demonstrators fired on reportedly were demanding that in addition to the economic concessions, the government should work toward cementing a plan to end Sudan's 5-year-old civil war.

The Democratic Unionist Party, one of three parties in the ruling coalition, announced Wednesday it was resigning from the government in sympathy with the strikers. The party dominates the 2 million-member Sudan Workers' Trade Union Federation, which organized Thursday's general strike.

The reported price rollback was decided in an emergency Cabinet session chaired by Prime Minister Sadiq al-Mahdi. It canceled increases imposed Monday of 600 percent for sugar and 50 percent for cigarettes and a 15 percent sales tax on commodities. The increases came two days after Mahdi approved pay hikes for public workers.

For the record South Africa banned yesterday four more anti-apartheid groups, raising to more than 30 the number of organizations curbed by state-of-emergency regulations this year. Border talks between North and South Korean lawmakers deadlocked yesterday after an unexpected Northern call for an end to Seoul's joint military exercises with the US.

In yesterday's Monitor, a drawing next to an article on Monarch butterfly migration is actually a Tiger Swallow Tail butterfly, which does not migrate.

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