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The world in brief

Compiled from Times wires

© St. Petersburg Times, published March 11, 2001

New York-bound plane evacuated after threat

MANCHESTER, England -- More than 400 passengers were evacuated from a plane destined for New York City on Saturday after officials received a warning that a bomb was on board.

The plane, a Pakistan International Airlines Boeing 747 traveling from the Pakistani cities of Karachi and Lahore, was towed to a remote area of Manchester Airport and surrounded by a 600-yard exclusion zone, Greater Manchester Police said.

The plane was scheduled to continue to New York's John F. Kennedy airport after the stopover in Manchester.

A police spokeswoman said airline officials received a series of telephone threats beginning at 4:30 a.m. Saturday. Callers said a bomb aboard the plane would explode over the Atlantic Ocean.

Albanian rebels refuse NATO cease-fire plea

KONCULJ, Yugoslavia -- NATO's bid to negotiate a cease-fire between ethnic Albanian rebels and Yugoslav forces in southern Serbia stalled Saturday, a setback for the alliance in its effort to curb armed clashes around Kosovo's borders.

Special NATO envoy Pieter Feith had hoped the rebels and Yugoslav troops would agree to a cease-fire in the buffer zone separating Kosovo from the rest of Serbia, Yugoslavia's main republic. But he emerged without an agreement from the ethnic Albanians after three hours of talks.

Rebels told reporters that the main stumbling block was NATO's plan to allow Yugoslav forces into the buffer zone near the Macedonian border to help cut off supplies of smuggled weapons to rebels operating there.

The rebels objected to a Serb request to send special police into an ethnically mixed village near the border.

Ethnic violence rages in Malaysian townships

KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia -- Malay Muslims and ethnic Indians attacked each other Saturday on the outskirts of the Malaysian capital, where three days of clashes have left at least three people dead.

Police said the latest fatality, an Indian man, died of injuries in a hospital Saturday afternoon.

In a bid to calm the situation, the government downplayed suggestions of a racial conflict and sent 400 police reinforcements to the townships on the outskirts of Kuala Lumpur where the fighting was taking place.

Germany's Fischer chides his party's U.S. position

STUTTGART, Germany -- Germany's foreign minister chided his own party Saturday after it chose a co-leader critical of U.S. military policy, saying that being part of the government means making compromises.

At a Greens party convention, Foreign Minister Joschka Fischer avoided directly challenging Claudia Roth, who resoundingly won one of the party's two top leadership posts Friday after criticizing U.S. plans for a national missile defense and the bombing of Iraq.

But Fischer said a party that grew out of peace and anti-nuclear movements in the 1980s needs to face up to tough choices now that it's in government.

"We shouldn't fall into the reflex of thinking that when we are against something, it simply won't happen," Fischer told delegates.

Elsewhere . . .

AUSTRALIAN STORMS: Powerful storms battered parts of eastern Australia for a third day Saturday, flooding towns, leaving thousands without electricity and claiming at least one life. A 12-year-old boy was killed late Friday when a car was swept off the road by a fierce storm in Queensland. The boy's mother, who was driving, escaped.

MEXICO: President Vicente Fox gave a warm welcome Saturday to leftist Zapatista rebels as they rallied on the outskirts of Mexico City, and said their visit to the capital implied their entry into the political arena and peace talks. Fox, who marked his first 100 days in office Saturday, has weathered harsh criticism from rebel leader Subcomandante Marcos during the Zapatista's two-week, cross-country bus tour, calling it proof of the new democracy ushered in when he took office Dec. 1.

IRAQI EMBARGO: Kuwait's coast guard impounded a Honduras-flagged oil tanker suspected of violating the U.N. embargo on Iraq, an Interior Ministry official said. The vessel, intercepted in Kuwaiti waters, was carrying 1,450 tons of crude oil from Iraq.

BEACHED WHALES: Residents found 171 whales washed up on a beach on an island off southern Japan, local police said Saturday. Forty-four of the animals died, but the rest were returned to the sea by residents and surfers on Tanegashima Island. The whales ranged 4 to 9 feet in length.

BEATIFICATION: Pope John Paul II will beatify a record 233 people today, Roman Catholics who died in 1936 in Spain's bitter civil war. Almost all of them died in the province of Valencia at the hands of leftist forces battling Gen. Francisco Franco. John Paul has beatified nearly 1,000 people since he became pontiff in 1978, including other victims of the anti-clerical campaign during the Spanish war, but never so many at one time.

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