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Mozambicans flee into South Africa

A guerrilla attack on the Mozambican border town of Ressano Garcia drove thousands of residents into neighboring South Africa early yesterday, a South African police official said.

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The same night, the official Mozambican news agency AIM reported Renamo (Mozambique National Resistance Movement) rebels massacred 40 people in a village 90 miles to the northwest.

The attacks came on the eve of a fresh round of peace talks between right-wing Renamo and the government of President Joaquin Chissano, due to start in Rome today.

The border attack began at 11:15 p.m. just across the frontier from the South African town Komatipoort, said Lt. Johan Combrink, the police station commander.

The police immediately cut power to the electric fence at the South Africa-Mozambique border, and a total of 2,734 people fled across the frontier. Sixty people were treated for gunshot wounds, Lt. Combrink said, and police counted at least six dead on their side of the border.

Police temporarily housed the refugees at Komatipoort railway station, Combrink said, before returning them across the border at 7 a.m. after the danger had apparently passed.

Lesotho military ruler ousted

The military leader of the southern African kingdom of Lesotho was ousted in an Army coup Tuesday, and diplomats said he had been replaced by a colonel from the ruling Military Council. Radio Lesotho announced that Maj. Gen. Justin Lekhanya had been arrested Tuesday morning. He later announced his resignation in a quavering voice over the radio.

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Diplomats said the army had chosen Col. Elias Ramaema to replace him. Col. Ramaema is the last survivor of the original six-man Military Council that had seized power in a bloodless coup under Maj. Gen. Lekhanya in 1986.

Diplomatic sources said the coup had apparently been sparked by dissatisfaction among the Army rank and file over pay increases and did not signal a change in government policy.

Ethiopian government troops recapture first town

Ethiopian troops have retaken a key town from rebel forces in the first such government victory since a guerrilla offensive began two months ago, a radio report said.

The troops seized Ambo, 65 miles from the capital Addis Ababa, the government radio station said late Sunday night.

The town was the first to be retaken by government troops in the two-month rebel offensive in the country's long-running civil war. The combined rebel forces of the separatist Eritrean People's Liberation Front and the Ethiopian People's Revolutionary Democratic Front now control of over one third of the country.

Ambo, considered a strategically important town by Western diplomats in Addis Ababa, was seized by the Eritrean separatist rebels on April 24. The action prompted the United States Embassy to order non-essential staff to leave the country and advise the 600-strong American community to do likewise.

The Eritrean rebel group's clandestine radio station, said its forces had withdrawn from the Ambo area voluntarily because of an "unfavorable military situation."

Sudan frees former premier

Sudan's military ruler Omar Hassan al-Bashir said Tuesday he was freeing former Prime Minister Sadeq al-Mahdi and communist leader Mohammed Ali Nogd, the last of the Sudanese political party chiefs rounded up when he seized power in 1989.

Speaking to a national conference called to decide the country's political future, Mr. Bashir also offered amnesty to rebels.

Mr. Mahdi was premier during a 1986-89 interlude of elected government. He is the hereditary leader of the Ansar movement - the followers of his great-grandfather, the Immam Mahdi who fought Britain, Egypt, and Turkey in the 1880s and 1890s.

Repeatedly jailed and exiled, Mahdi was captured after Bashir's coup, spent six months in jail and has since been under house arrest.

Bashir said he was freeing all remaining political prisoners, which number about 100, according to a recent official estimate.

Mr. Nogd, the veteran communist leader whose party took part in Mahdi's last, broad-based government, spent 16 years in hiding during the military dictatorship of Jaafar Nimeiri.

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