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ARRESTED: The Mexican government said Friday it arrested the nephew of the leader of one of the country's largest drug rings, which critics have claimed is connected to senior political figures. Deputy Attorney General Mario Ruiz Massieu held a news conference to announce the arrest of Antonio Abrego Perez on drug-trafficking charges. His uncle, Juan Garcia Abrego, has been identified as chief of the gulf cartel. Ruiz Massieu said the nephew's arrrest brought Mexican police a step closer to breaking up the ring headed by Garcia Abrego, which allegedly ships narcotics from Colombia along Mexico's east coast to the United States.

ATTACK: Chechnya's main opposition group attacked troops loyal to the president of the separatist Russian region Friday and called once again for his overthrow. The opposition shadow government, the Provisional Council, said its forces were ordered to exterminate loyalists to President Dzhokhar Dudayev who fought back, the ITAR-Tass news agency said. It said Provisional Council fighters battled with Dudayev's forces near Dolin-skaya, a village about 20 miles north of Grozny, the capital.

Across the nation

FAULT: A 40-mile-long fault nine miles below ground may account for the San Francisco Bay area's "earthquake machine," scientists said Friday. The newly discovered superfault running from San Jose to Vallejo connects the region's biggest fault lines - the San Andreas fault on the San Francisco side of the bay to the Hayward fault running through suburbs in the east Bay area. "We've been trying to understand the earthquake machine, the earthquake engine," said Thomas Brocher of the U.S. Geological Survey in Menlo Park. "This surface may represent the bottom of these faults." A report on the fault was published Friday in the journal Science.

CANCELED: Two Labor Day week-end cruises aboard a luxury liner were abruptly canceled Friday following the outbreak of a mystery intestinal illness that felled more than 400 passengers and crew and may have caused the death of one man. Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines said it decided to cancel the two cruises aboard the Viking Serenade after consulting with officials from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control. Bob Howard, a spokesman for the CDC in Atlanta, Ga., said the agency was continuing to investigate the outbreak, which forced the Viking Serenade to return to Los Angeles on Thursday, a day ahead of its scheduled return from Mexico.

In Washington

WORK IT OUT: A judge ordered ousted NAACP leader Ben Chavis and lawyers for the civil rights group back to court Oct. 24 but urged the two sides to settle their differences out of court. "Lawsuits detract everyone from their regular business," Judge Richard Salzman of District of Columbia Superior Court said during a status hearing Friday. "I wouldn't be offended if you solved this matter." Lawyers are to argue Oct. 24 over whether the judge should grant Chavis a preliminary injunction halting the group's dismissal procedures while his suit makes its way through the court system.

Other news

THREE MEN walking across a marijuana field 25 miles east of Jackson, Ky., were killed Thursday when they walked into a trip wire and set off several exploding booby-traps, police said Friday. . . . RUSSIAN PRESIDENT Boris Yeltsin fired Russia's press minister Friday following an outcry over the official's statements that the government should run the news media like an army. . . . LOS ANGELES hospital workers who fainted after smelling mysterious fumes while treating a dying patient in February probably were just suffering from stress, according to a California state study released Friday.