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Sarajevo cease-fire frays; 7 injured in mortar attack

A mortar round struck a Sarajevo neighborhood Wednesday, injuring seven people in this besieged capital's worst shelling incident in months, government television reported.

Hospital officials said five of the wounded were children sitting outside a high-rise apartment building. A 14-year-old girl underwent emergency surgery for head and stomach injuries.

There was no immediate confirmation of the incident from U.N. monitors, and it was not clear who fired the shell.

There had been virtually no serious shelling incidents since Feb. 5, when a mortar round hit a crowded Sarajevo market, killing at least 68 people.

After that incident, NATO threatened to bomb any heavy weapons not put under U.N. guard or pulled beyond an exclusion zone extending up to 12{ miles from the city.

A cease-fire around the Serb-besieged Bosnian capital has looked increasingly shaky in recent weeks.

Serbs have been angry over recent offensives by the Muslim-led government in northern and central Bosnia, and by government commando raids near Sarajevo in which at least two dozen Serb soldiers have been killed.

Bosnia has been at war since April 1992, when the heavily armed Serb minority rebelled at a vote by the republic's Muslims and Croats to secede from Yugoslavia. An estimated 200,000 people have been killed or reported missing.

Russian jet is hijacked

MOSCOW _ Two men commandeered a Russian passenger jet Wednesday, and one of them later surrendered after 24 hostages were freed. The second hijacker continued to hold three crew members even after negotiators handed over $500,000.

The Yak-40 jet was parked at the end of a runway in Makhachkala in southern Russia, and commandos stood by "ready to storm the plane," the ITAR-Tass news agency said.

The hijackers had claimed to have suitcases packed with explosives and threatened to blow up the plane unless they were allowed to fly to Iran. They also demanded $2-million.

It was the latest in a string of hijackings in southern Russia, a center of crime and unrest since the collapse of the Soviet Union.

Frenchman ordered caned

SINGAPORE _ A French businessman has been sentenced to five strokes of the cane and 14 months in jail in Singapore, his lawyer said Wednesday.

Marcel Aime Faucher, 45, whose wife and two children live in France, pleaded guilty to two charges of writing bad checks and one of overstaying his visa.

Caning, imposed for a number of offenses, drew international attention this year when American Michael Fay received four strokes of the cane for a vandalism conviction.

Dali sculpture stolen

ST. PETERSBURG, Russia _ A gold sculpture by Salvador Dali was stolen from the Union of Artists gallery during a reception, police said Wednesday.

The 8-inch figure of the Egyptian goddess Isis is worth about $50,000, police spokesman Igor Komissarov said.

It was one of 1,020 pieces in a Dali show sponsored by the Russian Union of Artists and by Russian and German companies, Komissarov said. The works, from private collections, were displayed in Moscow earlier this fall, and the exhibit opened in St. Petersburg on Sept. 30.

The statue disappeared Monday night from its glass showcase. The case was secured with a lock, and police think the thief must have known the combination.

"The surprising thing is that such a show was exhibited in a room that did not even have alarms," Komissarov said. The theft occurred during a reception marking the show's closing, he said.

Gallery managers refused to comment.