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Yugoslav military ex-chief turns foe

Yugoslavia has reached "a virtual dead end" under President Slobodan Milosevic, his former army chief said Thursday and pledged to work to oust him.

The former army chief, Gen. Momcilo Perisic, was fired by Milosevic last November after he opposed the president's defiant policies toward the West. Perisic said Thursday he is forming the Movement for Democratic Serbia, whose prime goal would be to remove Milosevic.

"Slobodan Milosevic and his ruling system must be removed from the political stage," said the group's statement. "The regime of Slobodan Milosevic, based on corrupt groups of his helpers, endangers the survival of the state. It has no moral right to represent and lead us."

Perisic is a potentially dangerous opponent for Milosevic because of his popularity within the army. He has joined with opposition parties that have been organizing anti-Milosevic rallies.

In Kosovo, meanwhile, ethnic Albanians opened fire Thursday on international peacekeepers trying to prevent another revenge attack on Serbs. British troops detained seven men after a car chase and a shootout with the ethnic Albanians in a Serb area just north of Pristina, said British Lt. Col. Robin Hodges.

Two of the seven men were wounded by British fire, and a man who escaped also was believed to be wounded, he said. The troops were patrolling in a spot where Serbs had been threatened and told to leave, Hodges said.

Congo rebels cease fire

to allow vaccinations

KISANGANI, Congo _ Congolese rebels declared a unilateral, weeklong cease-fire in fighting against government troops Thursday to allow polio vaccinations for an estimated 10-million children.

Congo's first national campaign to vaccinate against the crippling disease is sponsored by the United Nations and starts today.

U.N. agencies have distributed vaccination kits to health centers, where mothers have been urged by leaders and aid workers to bring children under age five for their first polio shots.

Australian coal miners

stage one-day strike

SYDNEY, Australia _ Coal miners in Australia began a 24-hour strike today in a move that could cost the country's largest export industry nearly $20-million in lost production.

The strike, called by the Construction, Forestry, Mining and Energy Union, is on behalf of 125 workers who lost their jobs when the Oakdale mine in New South Wales state closed in June. The union says they are owed more than $3.9-million in compensation.

The strike was expected to affect up to 20,000 coal miners in about 100 mines, mostly in New South Wales and Queensland states.

Torture cells found at

U.S.-built Honduran base

TEGUCIGALPA, Honduras _ A U.S.-built military base in Honduras contains cramped metal cells apparently used to torture and kill political prisoners, a Honduran official said Thursday.

The cells _ along with dozens of possible grave sites _ were discovered this week at El Aguacate air base in eastern Honduras, which the United States built for Nicaraguan Contra rebels in 1983. It also was used by the Honduran army.

"In the middle of overgrown brush at El Aguacate, we found six sites with tombs and metal cells where we believe the army tortured, killed and buried its victims," said Sandra Ponce, Honduras' attorney general for human rights.

"We suspect there are more than 48 graves in the area, holding the remains of an undetermined number of people buried there in the 1980s by the military," Ponce said.

The armed forces governed Honduras for almost 20 years after ousting three civilian presidents in 1957, 1963 and 1972. They abandoned power in 1982 although they still hold great influence.