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News Briefs I

Rebels Attack Congo's Capital

Los Angeles Times

Rebels fighting to topple President Laurent Kabila slipped into the outskirts of Kinshasa before dawn Wednesday and triggered an intense battle that paralyzed much of the capital but fell short of the insurgents' apparent target - Congo's main airport.

Sharp blasts and long, thundering explosions rocked the city all morning as government helicopters shuttled between the city center and the embattled northeastern suburbs. The fighting died down after noon, but authorities imposed a 6 p.m.-to-6 a.m. curfew on the nearly 6 million inhabitants here. The scale of the fighting appeared to be large, with doctors at the city's General Hospital reporting hundreds of combatants killed or wounded.

The attack marked another surprising turn in the 3-week-old uprising that has drawn in five foreign armies and unsettled central Africa. It came a day after Kabila returned to Kinshasa following a nine-day absence and declared that the rebel drive, backed by Rwanda and Uganda, was being crushed.

Israeli Assassination Prompts Attack on Settlement

Los Angeles Times

Israel wrestled on Wednesday with the wisdom of cross-border assassination after the killing of a Lebanese militia leader was followed by the heaviest rocket attack on Israel's northern communities in more than a year.

The overnight barrage, which left 10 civilians and two soldiers slightly injured and sent thousands of people running to bomb shelters, also renewed a simmering debate here about Israel's costly occupation of southern Lebanon and raised questions for many about the risks of further retaliation.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said, however, that Israel would continue to strike at those who threaten its civilians.

A few hours later, an Israeli army helicopter came under anti-aircraft fire over the Bekaa Valley of eastern Lebanon and struck back at the source of the fire, a Lebanese Army position. And there were reports of shelling late Wednesday between the Israeli army and its Lebanese allies on one side and Shiite militias on the other within the 9-mile-wide strip on Lebanon that Israel occupies as a security zone.

The latest round of violence in the troubled border area began Tuesday near Tyre, Lebanon, when an Israeli helicopter fired two rockets at a car carrying Hossam Amin, a mid-level commander of the Lebanese Shiite Amal militia. Amin, who had been implicated by Israel in attacks against its soldiers, was killed.

Justice Again Probes King Assassination

The Washington Post

The Justice Department Wednesday reopened its investigation into the 1968 assassination of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., but said its new inquiry will be much narrower than the late civil rights leader's family had hoped.

Attorney General Janet Reno said she directed her department to review allegations by a former FBI agent and a former Memphis bar owner suggesting that convicted assassin James Earl Ray was part of a broader conspiracy. King's widow, Coretta Scott King, had asked Reno to establish a national fact-finding commission to conduct a more extensive investigation, including a review of Ray's claims before his death in April that he was wrongfully convicted of murder.

"We hope this review will provide answers to new questions that have been raised about a tragedy that still haunts our nation," Reno said.