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News Briefs, part 1

Islamic Guerrillas Kill Four Israeli Soldiers

The Washington Post

Islamic guerrillas in southern Lebanon killed four Israeli soldiers and wounded five Monday in a daylight ambush against an armored patrol that brought Israeli retaliation with artillery and rockets.

The Iranian-backed Hezbollah fundamentalist organization said it carried out the ambush to mark the second anniversary of the assassination of its leader, Sheik Abbas Musawi, who was killed by an Israeli helicopter raid.

Israel's military chief of staff, Ehud Barak, told reporters the patrol was ambushed as it made its way through dense terrain near Sojoud in a portion of southern Lebanon held by Israel.

The armored patrol was attacked by light weapons and rocket-propelled grenades from close range, joined by missiles from farther away. The attack was followed by an hour-long battle as Israel called in helicopters, planes and artillery.

News reports from Lebanon said Israel attacked three villages a few miles north of the ambush site, but there were no immediate reports on the extent of casualties from the retaliatory attacks. Reuter said the villages hit by Israeli airstrikes included Jarjou and Ain Qana, both northwest of Sojoud, and Mlita, in the Iqlim Toufah area, a mountainous ridge held by Hezbollah.

Discovery Astronauts Frustrated In Effort to Launch Satellite

The Washington Post

Bedeviled by technical snags, the space shuttle Discovery astronauts gave up trying to launch a cantankerous satellite Monday. But officials said the device, anchored to the shuttle's robot arm, still managed to demonstrate a promising new technique for producing high-speed semiconductors.

Frustrated in their work to launch the Wake Shield Facility satellite, the U.S.-Russian crew enjoyed a late-afternoon call from President Clinton, who praised the mission as a step toward a jointly operated space station later this decade.

"We're going to do everything we can to keep supporting the space program and the space station," Clinton said from mission control in Houston.

"I hope what America is seeing of you today, particularly the cooperation between the United States and Russia," he said, " ... will strengthen the support among the American people for the space program and the space station in particular."

Floating in front of Russian and American flags on the wall of Discovery's lower deck, the six-member crew thanked the president for his support. They called the 60th shuttle mission a success despite technical problems that prevented them from launching the $12.5 million Wake Shield.

Opposition Candidate Wins Costa Rican Presidency

Los Angeles Times
SAN JOSE, Costa Rica

Ending the most bitter election in modern Costa Rican history, voters Sunday chose as their next president the 39-year-old son of a national hero who had to overcome old murder allegations to stay in the race.

Opposition candidate Jose Maria Figueres appeared well on his way to defeating businessman Miguel Angel Rodriguez of the ruling Social Christian Unity Party, early returns showed. Rodriguez conceded Sunday night, pledging to heal the deep wounds opened by the acrimonious campaign.

The official Supreme Electoral Tribunal released partial results that gave Figueres, trained at both West Point and Harvard, a slim victory margin of 2 to 3 percentage points.

"This triumph of the Costa Rican family is a triumph of truth over lies ... of the team work of thousands over arrogance," Figueres told a jubilant crowd of supporters in downtown San Jose. "I hope we never again live through such a tumultuous campaign."