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Guerrillas blamed for Philippines massacre

The Philippine army on Tuesday blamed communist guerrillas, some as young as 12, for the massacre of 41 soldiers but denied it points to a rebel resurgence. A survivor of the weekend ambush on the southern island of Mindanao said Tuesday that New People's Army (NPA) guerrillas beheaded five of those killed and stripped naked the bodies of the dead, taking boots, watches, necklaces and rings. There was no independent confirmation of the claims. Ten of the 150-man NPA unit died in the ambush on the 100-man army patrol. The massacre was the bloodiest rebel attack on government forces in 12 years.

Northern Iraq relief effort called a success

GENEVA _ A U.N. official on Tuesday hailed the United Nations' relief operation in northern Iraq as a "major success," saying all but 1,500 Kurdish families out of more than 60,000 without shelter just a few months ago have new homes. But Carol Faubert, Persian Gulf coordinator for the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees, warned that Kurd-controlled provinces would need continued help to rebuild. The relief operation began after the collapse of the post-gulf war Kurdish rebellion, when 2-million refugees fled toward Iran and Turkey.

Balcony collapse kills 80 at Hindu festival

NEW DELHI _ The balcony of an old hostel in a southern town of Kumbakonam collapsed Tuesday onto a gathering of pilgrims. More than 80 people were killed by falling concrete slabs and the stampede it triggered among terrified worshipers, news reports said. The tragedy occurred during a Hindu festival held every 12 years in Kumbakonam, in Tamil Nadu state, that attracts millions from throughout the nation. The Press Trust of India news agency reported hundreds of people crowded into the balcony of an ancient hostel overlooking a large artificial pool in which people were taking ritual baths. Tens of thousands more were standing at the edge of the tank awaiting their turns. Hindus believe a dip in the sacred 5.4-acre pool at a time determined by astrologers absolves one's sins.

19 killed on election eve in Punjab state

AMRITSAR, India _ The fear of death hung over Punjab on Tuesday on the eve of crucial state legislative elections that many see as a battle between Sikh separatism and Indian unity. Gunmen shot and killed 19 villagers in southern Punjab on Tuesday morning in what appeared to be a grim warning to prospective voters. Sikh rebels have vowed to kill the first five people who vote today. The number is important to the militants because it is the holy number in their faith. The Sikhs, who constitute barely 2 percent of the nation's 844-million, say Hindu-majority India denies them cultural freedom and the full wealth of their land. Sikhs are in a slight majority in the rich farming Punjab state.

United States picks up 251 more Haitians

WASHINGTON _ The U.S. Coast Guard picked up 251 Haitian boat people in the past four days despite its program of involuntary repatriation. State Department spokesman Richard Boucher said a total of 719 Haitians had been intercepted trying to reach the United States since the Supreme Court ruled Jan. 31 that the government could repatriate them against their will. He said 527 refugees were sent back to Haiti on Monday and three more shiploads would be returned today, Thursday and Friday. So far, almost 4,000 of the 15,000 boat people who fled Haiti after its democratically elected president, Jean-Betrand Aristide, was deposed by a military coup Sept. 30 have been sent back. Human rights groups appealed to the Supreme Court again Friday to stop the repatriations.

Japanese party ends parliament boycott

TOKYO _ Japan's parliament got back to business today after a reluctant ruling party bowed to opposition demands, backed by a two-week boycott, to investigate a rash of political scandals. Opposition parties agreed to resume the lower house budget committee session only after the ruling Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) agreed to summon former Prime Minister Zenko Suzuki and ex-Cabinet minister Jun Shiozaki for questioning next Tuesday. Suzuki and Shiozaki, both from Prime Minister Kiichi Miyazawa's faction of the LDP, have been implicated in the Kyowa scandal in which Miyazawa's close aide, Fumio Abe, is accused of taking bribes in exchange for favors while regional development minister.

Kuwait may gain land in map redrawing

LONDON _ Kuwait looks certain to be given several Iraqi oil wells and part of a naval base as a result of a U.N. plan to redraw its border, the Financial Times reported today. A U.N. commission, established as part of the gulf war cease-fire agreement, is not expected to present its findings until April. But the team already has decided on a border several hundred _ in some cases several thousand _ yards north of the present line, the paper said. The commission's findings were based on research into maps and documents held largely in British Foreign Office archives. These date back to the years after World War I, when the states of Iraq and Kuwait were being formed from the crumbling Ottoman Elsewhere. . .

ABIDJAN, Ivory Coast: Ivory Coast's main opposition leader, Laurent Gbagbo, leader of the Ivorian Popular Front, was arrested with hundreds of supporters Tuesday when an anti-government march turned into the worst rioting in the West African country.

DUBLIN, Ireland: Political leaders agreed on Tuesday to review a constitutional ban on abortions, as anger grew over the case of a 14-year-old girl barred from seeking an abortion in Britain.

CARACAS, Venezuela: A military court on Tuesday charged 33 mid-ranking army officers with leading or helping to stage a bloody attempted coup Feb. 4 at the presidential palace and residence in Caracas and government sites in four other cities.

PANAMA CITY, Panama: Defense Secretary Dick Cheney told Panamanian leader Guillermo Endara on Tuesday that the United States would remove its 10,000 troops by the end of the decade as stipulated in the 1977 Panama Canal Treaties. The Pentagon plans to remove half that number by 1996.

HONOLULU: Nearly 100 Chinese nationals were caught on a Taiwanese fishing boat, apparently trying to sneak into the United States. The U.S. attorney's office will decide whether to pursue administrative proceedings or criminal charges.

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