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News Briefs I

Government Forces Repel Assault

Los Angeles Times

President Laurent Kabila's forces appeared to be turning back a heavily armed rebel assault on this capital Friday after civilians in its rough eastern neighborhoods joined in rooting out and killing the intruders.

In a chilling turn for Congo's conflict, local journalists and residents have reported seeing the bodies of several dozen suspected rebels who were lynched, burned or beaten to death by jeering and spitting crowds mobilized by the government.

Authorities said at least 1,000 rebels have been arrested in three days of fighting that has left hundreds dead or wounded in the capital. Other rebels tried to slip away after dropping their weapons and shedding their uniforms, residents said.

Crowds gathered Friday afternoon along central Kinshasa's 30th of June Boulevard to applaud government tanks and troops. The soldiers waved automatic rifles in the air, firing in celebration.

Justice Minister Mwenze Kongolo said the victory party was premature. "Vigilance against the enemy continues," he said. "This war is not over."

As the army locked the city's 6 million people under another overnight curfew, small-arms fire echoed in scattered neighborhoods, signaling pockets of resistance.

And with the insurgents holding every major city on Congo's eastern border and being supported by troops from neighboring Uganda and Rwanda, Africa's third-largest country remained dangerously partitioned by a multinational armed conflict with no peaceful solution in sight.

Kenyans Endorse U.S. Trial for Bombing Suspects

The Washington Post

Kenyans voiced approval Friday for the extradition to the United States of two suspects in the Aug. 7 bombing of the U.S. Embassy in Nairobi, even though the bomb exploded on their soil and all but 12 of the 253 people killed in the blast were Kenyans.

The fear, they said in interviews Friday, is that high-profile legal proceedings might invite another devastating terrorist strike.

"We don't want that in Kenya," said John Munyambo, an airport worker in this coastal city. "That was our first one. Should be the last one."

That commonly expressed reasoning apparently accounts for the muted response here to the news that suspects Mohamed Rashed Daoud Owhali and Mohammed Saddiq Odeh had been flown to the United States to face indictments unsealed in New York Thursday and Friday.

In announcing their departure, Kenyan Attorney General Amos Wako did not explain why his country was waving any claim to try them first.

President Daniel arap Moi also has remained mum on the agreement, negotiated by FBI Director Louis J. Freeh during an overnight visit to Nairobi last week. But in a Thursday editorial headlined "The delicate matter of where to try suspects," the Kenya Times, which is owned by Moi's party, observed "that this country's capacity to counter terrorism during a trial that could be protracted is limited."

Assent was far from unanimous, however. News services quoted leading Nairobi attorneys criticizing the decision.

"It's a very complicated question, but to me I think they should be tried where the incident occurred," said Litsunda Erastus, 54.

Clinton Confidant Lindsey Testifies Before Grand Jury

The Washington Post

After five months of resistance that went all the way to the Supreme Court, presidential confidant Bruce R. Lindsey returned to the grand jury Friday to face questions in the Monica S. Lewinsky investigation. But his appearance did not end the fight over his testimony.

Lindsey, a Clinton friend since their Arkansas days and now the deputy White House counsel, spent nearly four hours with the grand jury apparently addressing lines of inquiry that were not considered subject to attorney-client privilege.

The questioning was designed to focus on questions that would not reignite the long-running dispute over Lindsey's conversations with the president, which the White House maintains are protected from disclosure. The White House would not say whether Lindsey refused to answer any questions, but there were none of the signs that usually indicate a dispute over testimony in the closed grand jury room, such as lawyers rushing to a judge's chamber or filing sealed papers at the appeals court.

In a separate development, another grand jury has received evidence that one of Starr's chief witnesses, Linda R. Tripp, may have known she was violating Maryland wiretapping laws when she secretly recorded conversations with Lewinsky talking about her affair with the president.