Northern Ireland

BELFAST - Protestants were barred Friday from parading through a hostile Catholic neighborhood in Belfast by a new commission created to prevent clashes over marches.


KINSHASA - The government of the Democratic Republic of the Congo banned the country's main human rights group, AZADHO, accusing it of playing politics.


LIMA - An earthquake measuring 6.1 on the open-ended Richter scale rocked northern Peru on Friday and was felt from the Andes to the Pacific coast, quake monitors said.


The United States said it had warned its citizens in Egypt that a guerrilla attack could be carried out in Cairo shortly.


TEGUCIGALPA - Honduran military officers accused of executing left-wing activists during the 1980s have been traced to countries in South America and Europe, a police investigator said Friday.


TEHRAN - Iranians will hold anti-Western demonstrations during the annual Muslim pilgrimage, Iranian radio reported. The head of Iranian pilgrimage affairs says Iran's late leader Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini decreed such rallies an integral part of the pilgrimage, the radio reported. TEHRAN - Fifty Iranian prisoners of war were exchanged for 1,000 Iraqi prisoners Friday on the Iran-Iraq border, Iran's state-run radio reported.


MONTREAL - Quebec Premier Lucien Bouchard, whose separatist government's platform calls for another referendum on leaving Canada, said Friday he won't hold the vote if a majority of Quebeckers don't want it.

VICTORIA - A provincial legislator apologized to his colleagues Friday for writing a series of fake, self-serving letters to local newspapers. ST. JOHN'S - Newfoundland authorized officers of the Royal Newfoundland Constabulary to carry sidearms, ending its status as the only unarmed police force in Canada.


ROME - An Italian prosecutor investigating the 1981 shooting of Pope John Paul II accused both the Vatican and France of impeding his efforts, news reports said Friday.


NICOSIA - U.S. envoy Richard Holbrooke launched a stepped-up American bid Friday to restart talks between Greek and Turkish factions on the divided island of Cyprus.


MEXICO CITY - Mexico may order the country to leap forward one hour this weekend, but politicians and civic groups in several states say residents should keep their clocks just where they are.

El Salvador

SAN SALVADOR - The Salvadoran troops convicted of killing four American church women in 1980 now say they were carrying out orders from superiors, a human rights group said Friday.


BOGOTA - Marxist rebels holding three U.S. hostages in Colombia have accepted that the Americans are not spies, local radio reported Friday.


SYDNEY - Racism in Australia is on the rise and racial tensions are straining the country, Australian Race Discrimination Commissioner Zita Antonios said.


ANKARA - Turkey has ordered a crackdown on illegal sheepskin trading to cut off a large source of income to radical Islamic institutions, the justice minister said Friday.