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Most of Ethiopia under control, leader says

Ethiopia's new leader, Meles Zenawi, said Monday that his forces now controlled virtually all the war-torn country. Soldiers of the Ethiopian People's Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF) were advancing rapidly into remote districts and restoring law and order in the turbulent east and southwest. Meles said the new Ethiopia would have a free press and that peaceful demonstrations would be tolerated. He said a new smaller army would be created. A referendum will be held in Eritrea to decide the future of the Red Sea province, which is controlled by the EPRDF's ally, the secessionist Eritrean People's Liberation Front (EPLF), Meles said. Also, early today, heavy explosions rocked the city as an ammunition dump ignited in the eastern section, setting off fires that burned a city block. It was not immediately known if there were any casualties.Iraqi says 250,000 may have died after war

PARIS _ Iraqi officials told a French group investigating damage caused by the Persian Gulf war that up to a quarter of a million people may have died in Iraq during the civil strife that followed. Iraq said up to 45,000 civilians and up to 110,000 soldiers were killed during the war, lawyer Dominique Tricaud said Monday. Tricaud was addressing a news conference after returning from Iraq with a self-appointed investigation commission of French professionals. Professor Douceline Bonvalet said the death toll would rise sharply this summer during the outbreaks of epidemics caused by the destruction of water purification plants during the war.

Elsewhere . . .

BEIRUT, Lebanon _ Farouk al-Sharaa, Syria's foreign minister, and his Lebanese counterpart, Fares Bweiz, said Monday that a newly signed friendship pact between the two countries will help the cause of 13 Western hostages held in Lebanon. Sharaa said the Israeli withdrawal from Lebanon would help, too. Thirteen Westerners are missing in Lebanon, including six Americans.

FRANKFURT, Germany _ Susanne Albrecht, who rejected her affluent background and turned to terrorism, was convicted Monday in the slaying of a banker and the attempted bombing of Alexander Haig, then the NATO commander, both in 1977. Albrecht, 40, was immediately sentenced to 12 years in prison by the upper state court in Stuttgart. She could be eligible for parole in six years. Albrecht belonged to the Red Army Faction until 1980.

LUBACZOW, Poland _ Pope John Paul II, greeted for the second day by thousands of Soviet Catholics in eastern Poland, said Monday he thinks a religious revival is under way in the Soviet Union. The Polish-born pope was in a buoyant mood at the meeting with Ukrainian Catholics in this southeastern border town, an emotional foretaste of a historic visit he hopes to make to the Soviet Union. The Mass was attended by 100,000 people.

BELFAST, Northern Ireland _ British commandos killed three IRA guerrillas Monday in the village of Coagh, 30 miles west of Belfast, firing on their car as the guerrillas had prepared to ambush Protestant workers, officials said. The commandos fired up to 200 bullets into the guerrillas' stolen vehicle. It burst into flame, burning the men beyond recognition, police said.

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