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As efforts to rescue the crew of a sunken Russian nuclear submarine continued to be fruitless, Prime Minister Mikhail Kasyanov said the situation was "close to catastrophic." Navy officials said there were no signs of life on the Kursk but held out hope some of the crew could still be alive. A British rescue team headed for the scene in the Barents Sea was not expected to arrive until tomorrow, and a Norwegian contingent could take even longer. Meanwhile, a delegation of Russian officers met with NATO officials in Brussels to clarify what assistance the alliance could offer.

A release date for hostages in the Philippines was pushed back until at least today because of bad weather and complications involving three French journalists. Police sources said the Muslim rebel captors wanted to hold on to the trio out of worries the military would move in once everybody was freed. But President Joseph Estrada insisted that nobody be left out of the release, the chief negotiator said.

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Questions about how six Colombian schoolchildren were killed Tuesday prompted President Andrs Pastrana to order an investigation. The Army has said the children, who were on a field trip in the northwest part of the country, were caught in crossfire with rebels. But survivors of the trip insisted there were no guerrillas, and one witness - who was identified as a local town councilor in one report and as an assistant for the field trip in another - said the Army ambushed the students.

A Russian police car patrolling Chechnya's capital in preparation for elections Sunday was blown up by rebels, killing two civilians inside, the military said. Four Russian police officers also were wounded, the Interfax news agency said, citing the military command. The incident followed on the heels of one in which gunmen fired at the home of one of the candidates in the election. No casualties were reported. The vote, which was delayed from last December because of wide-scale bombing and shelling, will choose a legislator from the breakaway region to serve in Russia's parliament.

Burundi's military chief and rebel leaders met in a concerted attempt to break a deadlock in the country's peace process. But shortly before, a senior Army officer was killed in a rebel ambush in the eastern part of the country, officials said. At least eight others were killed. The meeting of leaders, meanwhile, which was in South Africa, was likely to address issues including cease-fire terms and amnesty for past crimes. Under a proposed accord, the Tutsis, who have dominated political and economic life, would hand over power to a democratically elected government within three years.

(c) Copyright 2000. The Christian Science Publishing Society


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