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News Briefs II

Single Gunshot Unnerves Watchers of Peru Compound

The Washington Post
LIMA, Peru

A single gunshot fired outside the Japanese ambassador's residence in the pre-dawn darkness Tuesday caused no injuries but prompted a renewed focus on the mental health of the remaining 74 hostages inside the building.

A team from the International Committee of the Red Cross spent most of the afternoon in the residence, trying to assess what effect, if any, the surprise gunshot had on hostages, who are now entering their fourth week in captivity.

"We are looking quite closely into the emotional and psychological issues as time passes," said Red Cross spokesman Steven Anderson. "We have several people inside talking to the hostages, looking into any emotional effects [the shot)] may have had on them.

Tuesday morning's incident may have been intended as a warning shot by one of the rebels from the Tupac Amaru Revolutionary Movement, who seized the residence during a party on Dec. 17 and took many of the guests hostage. Whatever the motive, the shot seemed to echo throughout the city all day as people speculated on who fired it and what it meant. Television footage showed one person running to the wall of the compound shortly before the shot was fired, but it was unclear what prompted the sudden move.

Most of the 20 or so rebels inside have been described as very young, and one lingering concern is how these inexperienced fighters, all of whom are reported to be heavily armed and carrying explosives, are faring under pressure.

Intel Unveils Faster Pentium Chip

The Washington Post

Intel Corp. unveiled yesterday new versions of its popular Pentium microprocessor that are designed to dramatically improve the speed of multimedia software.

The new technology will boost the speed of programs laden with graphics, sound, and video by 60 percent on average, according to Intel. Computers with the new chips, called Pentium processors with MMX (multimedia extension) technology, should be on store shelves by the end of the month with price tags from $1,800 to $2,500, industry analysts said.

To take advantage of the multimedia speed improvement, software must be rewritten for the MMX chip. Software written for standard Pentium processors and older versions of Intel chips will work on the new MMX chips but only will have a 10 percent to 20 percent speed boost, Intel said.

MMX chips are available at speeds of 166 and 200 megahertz for desktop computers and at speeds of 150 and 166 MHz for laptop machines.

Intel plans to add the MMX technology to all its microprocessors by the end of the year, Khazam said. But computers without the MMX enhancement likely will be for sale through mid-1998 as retailers try to get rid of their existing inventory, analysts said.

Releasing the MMX after the holiday shopping season was a strategic move for Intel, which forced computer manufacturers to buy large quantities of MMX chips while they still have warehouses full of unsold non-MMX machines, said Drew Peck, an equity analyst at Cowen & Co. in Boston. "It was very clever on their part," Peck said.