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DEFIANT SERB GENERAL ASSAULTS IGMAN While NATO considered bombing Bosnian Serb forces closing in on Sarajevo, Gen. Ratko Mladic said yesterday his forces had taken Mt. Igman, a key peak overlooking the besieged capital. Government forces conceded their position was critical after the concerted Serb assault. The rebels also refused to obey orders by Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadzic to withdraw from nearby Mt. Bjelasnica and turn it over to UN troops. The assault on Mt. Igman directly defied NATO, which agreed Tuesday to prepare for airstr ikes around the capital. The assaults also threaten peace talks in Geneva: President Alija Izetbegovic boycotted for the third day yesterday. Christopher goes to Lebanon

US Secretary of State Warren Christopher made an unscheduled visit to Lebanon yesterday for talks with President Elias Hrawi on the cease-fire that followed Israel's week-long bombardment of Lebanon-based guerrillas.

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Earlier, Mr. Christopher met in Damascus with Syrian President Hafez al-Assad, a key figure in the Middle East peace talks, and said they agreed that "much, much hard work" is needed to make progress in the peace process. Space explosion costly

The explosion that destroyed a Titan IV rocket and a spy satellite may have been the United States's second most expensive space accident, analysts said Tuesday. The Titan and its payload blew up 101 seconds after launch from Vandenberg Air Force Base, 140 miles northeast of Los Angeles.

John Pike, a space policy analyst for the Federation of American Scientists, estimated the accident cost up to $2 billion. That includes more than $1.5 billion for what he believes was a Lacrosse imaging radar spy satellite. Heavy fighting in Somalia

Heavy fighting erupted late Tuesday as Somali gunmen fired on positions held by Pakistani peacekeeping forces and attacked a military airfield. There was no immediate word from the UN military headquarters on whether there were any casualties. The clashes ended a five-day lull in nighttime attacks on UN forces.

Gunmen loyal to fugitive warlord Mohamed Farah Aideed have been blamed for killing 35 peacekeepers, most of them Pakistanis, since June 5. US court on Demjanjuk

John Demjanjuk was in good spirits yesterday after hearing that a United States appeals court ruled he should be released by Israel and returned to the US. On Tuesday, the 6th US Circuit Court of Appeals said Israel would violate its extradition treaty with the United States if it tried Mr. Demjanjuk on new charges. He was acquitted last week of charges that he was the Nazi guard, "Ivan the Terrible."

Israeli authorities have ordered Demjanjuk to be held until Aug. 11, the deadline for prosecutors to tell the Israeli Supreme Court whether they want to try him on other Nazi war crimes charges. NY bombing tapes

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An informant's own recordings of conversations with FBI agents about the alleged conspiracy to bomb New York City landmarks could torpedo the government's case, a lawyer for two defendants said Tuesday. Government sources were quoted in New York Newsday as saying the informant, Emad Salem, made 40 or more secretly recorded tapes of his conversations with federal prosecutors and agents. Defense lawyers say the tapes could help them prove the government tricked their clients into unwittingly becoming part of a conspiracy to blow up the UN and other New York targets. Monitor Subscription Service Office Reopens

We are happy to report that conditions are back to normal with our Subscriber Services Department in Des Moines. The operations required to ensure that readers received their newspapers continued uninterrupted. We thank all our subscribers for their patience with our telephone service. We were able to make temporary arrangements to handle customer needs and are grateful to all those who worked so diligently on behalf of our customers.

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