CAPE TOWN - South African President Nelson Mandela hit back at claims by his predecessor F. W. de Klerk that his party used racism as a political tool. "I challenge any one of you who were in government and left - (you) don't have the record we in the ANC... have established in accommodating all racial groups in this country," he said in a speech to parliament.
ANTANANARIVO - Madagascar said 500 people were missing and 34 were confirmed dead after a storm hit the northwest of the island at the weekend. Population Minister Didier Ramaromisa, government spokesman, also said considerable damage was caused by tropical depression Josie which dumped large amounts of rain on the vanilla-growing northwest.
BRAZZAVILLE - Malaria kills two million people in Africa every year, particularly children, the World Health Organisation said.
SEOUL - South Korean president Kim Young-sam appointed a new home minister, one day after the former minister resigned in a loans scandal, a presidential spokesman said.
WASHINGTON - U.S. officials said China has indicated a willingness to drop many of its biggest trade barriers in order to win membership in the World Trade Organisation.
LONDON - Five of the six countries expected to form the launch pad for a single European currency are well on their way to meeting the required criteria, but Germany may lag behind, a Reuters survey showed. Yet with economic guidelines expected to be brushed aside in favour of political considerations, the economic powerhouse of Europe was seen as being guaranteed a place at the launch of economic and monetary union (EMU) in 1999.
VLORE, Albania - An Albanian policeman has been shot dead, raising tensions further in this Adriatic port town where three people died in anti-government demonstrations early this week.
BUKAVU, Zaire - Rebel leader Laurent Kabila said his forces had set off in the direction of ailing President Mobutu Sese Seko's jungle palace at Gbadolite after capturing the key town of Isiro in north east Zaire. Zaire denied the fall of Isiro.
LOS ANGELES - Fred Goldman offered to give up all claims to the $21 million he won against O. J. Simpson if the former football star would confess to killing Goldman's son. Simpson declined the offer, insisting he was innocent.
BEIJING - Dozens of police sealed off South Korea's consular office in central Beijing on Thursday after Hwang Jang-yop, a senior aide to North Korean leader Kim Jong-il, was reported to have taken refuge in the embassy and sought asylum in the South. Lines of police blocked off all approaches to the embassy's consular section in the diplomatic section of Beijing.
SARAJEVO - Bosnia's Moslem-Croat Federation and international officials reached an agreement to resolve the crisis in the divided south Bosnian town of Mostar, an international envoy said.
DENVER - Britain's Duchess of York defended herself against accusations she was sullying the name of the royal family by appearing in paid advertisements, saying she would never do anything to hurt the monarchy.
ASSIUT, Egypt - At least eight Christians were killed and five others wounded when suspected Moslem militants attacked a church in southern Egypt on Wednesday, security sources and the interior ministry said. The sources said the gunmen -- believed to be members of the militant Gama'a al-Islamiya (Islamic Group) -- stormed the church in Abu Qurqas town, some 200 km south of Cairo.