News In Brief
Ignoring President Clinton's appeal, ethnic-Albanian refugees in Macedonia abandoned their tents and streamed home to Kosovo despite the danger of unexploded land mines and bombs. Authorities said only about one-third of the Albanians who'd sheltered at the sprawling Stankovic camp were still there. A UN official called the exodus "staggering."
Only the government of Indonesia objected to the decision to delay the volatile referendum on autonomy for East Timor. Postponement for at least two weeks was announced by UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan on grounds that violence and intimidation by anti-independence militias had a "constricting effect" on political freedom in the province. The referendum originally was scheduled for Aug. 8. Separatist leader Xanana Gusmao backed the delay, as did opposition militia chiefs. But Indonesia's Foreign Minister said security was "constantly improving" and would be "fully conducive" to a vote on Aug. 8.
"There is no Plan B" for achieving sectarian harmony in Northern Ireland, the British Cabinet minister responsible for the province said. Mo Mowlam said her government still hoped for a breakthrough that would allow Protestants and Catholics to serve together in a self-rule administration by next Wednesday's deadline for a handover of power. But its formation remains stalled over when guerrillas from both sides will surrender their weapons. The June 30 target date also coincides with the beginning of the volatile Protestant marching season.
Anti-aircraft missiles and artillery were being placed around strategic sites in Pakistan as concern grew that India was preparing to escalate the ongoing fight with Muslim infiltrators in Kashmir. India claims the infiltrators are a mix of Pakistani troops and mercenaries. Army chief Ved Prakash Malik warned that Pakistan would pay a "stupendous price" for further infiltration and said crossing the cease-fire line in the disputed territory "will be taken up by the Cabinet" in New Delhi "if it becomes necessary."
With his lawyers opening their final arguments in his treason trial, rebel Kurdish leader Abdullah Ocalan warned of a bloodbath and possible military coup in Turkey if he's executed. Ocalan told the Italian daily La Repubblica: "If [Turkish authorities] think the problems will end with me, they are making a big mistake." Prosecutors argue that Ocalan bears responsibility for the deaths of more than 29,000 people in the 14-year Kurdish fight for self-rule. Ocalan, who blames Turkey for the uprising, denied he was attempting to bargain for his life.
A new front opened in the tainted-food scare in Europe, with warnings that it might have spread to Spain. Spanish health authorities were informed that an exporter of animal feed at the center of the scandal also had sold potentially dioxin-contaminated fatteners there. The European Union has initiated legal action against the Belgian government for waiting a month before providing the first notification of the contamination. Meanwhile, French authorities opened an inquiry into the parallel health scare linked to tainted Coca-Cola. France also asked the EU to ban any new marketing of genetically modified produce.