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News Briefs I

Bus Bomb in Pakistan Kills 50

Los Angeles Times

In the deadliest of a string of mysterious terrorist attacks in Pakistan, a bomb hidden in the gas tank of a crowded bus exploded Sunday, killing more than 50 passengers and injuring two dozen others, Pakistani officials and media said.

The bus was carrying residents of the Punjab province home for Eid al-Adha, the Islamic festival of sacrifice and the most important feast in the Muslim calendar.

Many of the passengers, including women and children, were trapped inside the bus when it burst into flames and were burned to death.

There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the bombing, but Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto pointed the finger at India, Pakistan's unfriendly neighbor.

Authorities said the explosive charge detonated as the crowded bus stopped to pick up passengers at a village marketplace in Bhaj Pheru, about 30 miles southwest of Lahore, Punjab's capital.

The state-run Pakistan news agency said the bomb was planted in the bus' gas tank and that it blew up with deafening force.

Bhutto offered no proof of Indian involvement. India, Pakistan's longtime adversary, has always denied any role in fomenting terrorism in Pakistan.

Weaver Says Feds Hurt Freemen

Los Angeles Times

Federal authorities have repeatedly rejected recommendations from former Army Col. James "Bo" Gritz to end the standoff with anti-government "freemen" here, a posture that has prolonged the six-week-old confrontation, former militant Randy Weaver said Monday.

As Gritz entered the freeman compound for a third day of talks aimed at winning the surrender of the more than 20 people holed up there, Weaver said that Gritz's appeals to officials to allow food into the ranch - along with various other steps to ease hardships - have been rebuffed.

He said his own offers to help end the standoff were welcomed by local FBI agents, but vetoed by the Justice Department.

"The local feds here say they're all for it, but then Washington says no. Pride and ego are standing in the way. They figure if I go in there and talk 'em out, I'll get the credit. It's pride, it's childish, and it's scary, actually," Weaver said in an interview.

"It's frustrating to be stopped by people who are supposed to be your servants," he said.

Israel's Peres Meets with Dole

Los Angeles Times

Hedging his close association with President Clinton, Israeli Prime Minister Shimon Peres met for 25 minutes Monday with Senate Majority Leader Bob Dole, the presumptive Republican presidential nominee, to discuss the uneasy truce on Israel's northern border.

"Both Sen. Dole and President Clinton are great friends of Israel," an Israeli official said after the meeting, insisting that Peres was maintaining strict neutrality in the U.S. presidential election.

For the Kansas senator, the session with Peres was a chance to make inroads into Clinton's overwhelming support in the American Jewish community.

Although Dole supports legislation moving the U.S. embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem - a high priority for both Israel and American Jews - he has found it difficult to compete with Clinton's uncritical support for Israel in its skirmishes with Hizbollah guerrillas based in Lebanon. American Jewish leaders have said that the president seems to have a commanding lead among Jewish voters.

But Dole's closed-door session with Peres on Capitol Hill contrasted sharply with what amounted to a joint Clinton-Peres re-election rally Sunday night when the president and the prime minister exchanged lavish words of praise for each other before several thousand cheering members of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, the mainstay of the pro-Israel lobby in Washington.