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News Briefs

Islamic Militants Threaten To Attack Population Forum

The Washington Post
CAIRO, Egypt

Islamic militants Saturday threatened to attack foreigners who attend a United Nations conference on population that opens here Sept. 5, raising fears that Egypt may be in for a new round of extremist violence following several months of relative calm.

The warning comes just a day after gunmen opened fire on a tour bus in southern Egypt, killing a 14-year-old Spanish boy in the first lethal attack on tourists since March. Two police officers also died in separate clashes with militants Friday and Saturday. Saturday's statement was the first explicit threat of violence against foreigners planning to attend the conference, which has been widely criticized by Islamic organizations as a plot by the West to impose its ideas of birth control and morality on the socially conservative Islamic world. Islamic militants have waged a two-year campaign against the government of President Hosni Mubarak that has claimed more than 400 lives, most of them police and militants killed in clashes in several provinces of southern Egypt. The militants also have killed several foreigners in a successful effort to damage the tourist industry that is one of Egypt's economic mainstays.

The latest warning came in the form of a statement faxed to Western news agencies by the Islamic Group, the main Islamic organization fighting the Egyptian government.

"The group, as it starts a new round of operations, urges all foreigners not to come to Egypt during the coming period for the sake of their lives," the Reuter news service quoted the statement as saying.

"The group advises all foreigners taking part in the licentiousness conference known as the population conference that ... they are putting themselves in harm's way," the statement said.

Rift Surfaces In Mexican Leftist Party

The Washington Post
MEXICO CITY

A rally by tens of thousands of militants here Saturday highlighted a growing rift in the leftist Party of the Democratic Revolution between moderate leaders pushing for reconciliation with the government and a radical rank-and-file calling for a 24-hour nationwide strike and massive civil disobedience to protest alleged fraud in last Sunday's national elections.

The radicals' call coincides with a communique from southern Mexico Thursday by the rebel Zapatista National Liberation Army denouncing irregularities in the elections, won by the long-ruling Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI), and urging Mexicans to take to the streets in protest. Thus far, however, no such protests have begun other than the one convened in Mexico City Saturday. In 1988 elections, Democratic Revolution candidate Cuauhtemoc Cardenas came the closest of any opposition candidate in history to ousting the PRI from the presidency, narrowly losing to Carlos Salinas de Gortari in a vote described by observers as tainted by massive fraud. Democratic Revolution had a second chance at defeating the PRI last Sunday, but party leaders acknowledge they failed in efforts to reshape Cardenas's image to conform to the electorate's increasingly conservative tendencies.

The latest official tally of Sunday's election results, which include all but nine of the 300 voting districts nationwide, show that PRI candidate Ernesto Zedillo garnered 49 percent of votes, compared with 26 percent for conservative candidate Diego Fernandez de Cevallos and 16.5 percent for Cardenas.

Bosnian Serbs Expected To Reject Peace Plan in Vote

The Washington Post
TRNOVO, Bosnia

Bosnian Serbs began voting Saturday in a weekend referendum designed to reinforce their rejection of foreign terms for ending Bosnia's war.

Serb leaders predicted more than 90 percent backing from 900,000 eligible voters in the two-day referendum, the second such vote held here in 16 months.

The international plan drawn up by the United States, Russia, Britain, France and Germany would require the Serbs to turn over to a Muslim-Croat federation about a third of the more than 70 percent of Bosnia's territory they now hold.

Drazenko Djukanovic, editor of a newspaper printed in a Serb-held section of Sarajevo, the Bosnian capital, said a poll he commissioned showed "no one in favor of the plan - I would have to force someone to vote for it."

Bosnian Serb political leader Radovan Karadzic cast his ballot early in Pale, the Serbs' headquarters outside Sarajevo, confidently predicting rejection of the plan. "We will ask for another map," he declared. "We expect a new conference, a new peace effort."