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Yugoslavia to reject Western monitors

The Yugoslav government will not allow observers from Western countries considered hostile to President Slobodan Milosevic to monitor elections here, a top official said Saturday.

The rejection, which comes amid fears of possible vote-rigging in the Sept. 24 election, is meant "to protect Yugoslavia's sovereignty and integrity," Information Minister Goran Matic said.

He blasted critics who had warned of fraud as "delegates of American institutions whose aim is to occupy our society."

Matic also accused the Belgrade-based, non-governmental organization Center for Free Elections and Democracy of being an "instrument of American agents" working to undermine Milosevic.

U.S. airman arrested

in Japan after hit-and-run

TOKYO _ A U.S. airman stationed in Japan turned himself in to police Saturday after an early morning hit-and-run incident that killed a 72-year-old Japanese woman, police said.

Police in Tachikawa, a western suburb of Tokyo, identified the airman as Pfc. Jon M. Mills, a 24-year-old enlisted man stationed at Yokota Air Base. After questioning Mills, police arrested him on charges of professional negligence resulting in death.

Mills is suspected of hitting Chiyoko Nakamura while driving back to the base at about 2:30 a.m. Saturday, then fleeing the scene.

Mills turned himself in less than two hours later and admitted responsibility for the accident.

Colombian plane hijacked into rebel territory

BOGOTA, Colombia _ Airline passenger Jose Orlando Ossa didn't find it suspicious when a man on his domestic flight over the Andes got up and went to the bathroom.

Neither, apparently, did the three federal prison guards who were supposed to be watching the man _ a suspected rebel serving time for a police officer's death. Not until he emerged from the lavatory waving a handgun and headed for the cockpit.

"He said it was a hijacking, that it was to obtain his freedom and that he was a guerrilla," Ossa said after the plane's diversion into rebel-held southern territory.

Ossa was among 22 passengers and crew aboard the Aires airlines Dash 8 turboprop, hijacked during a flight from Bogota to the southwestern provincial capital of Florencia.

All were freed unharmed after the plane landed on a guerrilla-held southern airstrip, dropped off the hijacker, then flew to the southwestern city of Neiva. No other demands were made.

But the in-flight hijacking _ the second this year by a prisoner being escorted by federal guards _ could have repercussions.

Besides embarrassing the country's penitentiary system, it could rattle peace talks to end Colombia's 36-year guerrilla conflict.

Police say the hijacker, Arnobio Ramos, was a member of the country's largest leftist insurgent group, the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia.

Basque party linked

to ETA to quit parliament

MADRID _ The political party linked to the armed ETA Basque separatist group plans to leave the Basque parliament, its leaders proposed Saturday at the party's Assembly in the northern town of Durango.

Euskal Herritarrok spokesman Arnaldo Otegi said Saturday that the Basque parliament supports only the status quo of Basque autonomy under the Spanish constitution rather than the party's goal of working toward independence.

The 75-seat Basque parliament, a regional legislature, has a high degree of autonomy from the Spanish government.

"We are not going to work in this parliament that mainly wants to stabilize the territorial division," Otegi said.


DEATH TOLL AT 60: Investigators believe Friday's massive explosion in China's tense Muslim northwest that killed 60 people and injured 173 was likely an accident. A truck carrying explosives for disposal detonated during Friday's rush hour on a major road. Based on the initial evidence, police believe an accident caused the blast, although they have not excluded terrorism.

INDIAN DROWNING: A boat filled with people returning to their village from a shopping trip capsized in a flooded river in eastern India Saturday and least 55 people were feared drowned, police said.