World briefs 02/04/03

Tuesday, February 4, 2003

Israeli court jails alleged al-Qaida trainee

EREZ, Gaza Strip -- An Israeli military court on Monday sentenced a Palestinian man to 27 years in prison for training with al-Qaida -- the first such case since Israel began investigating possible links between Palestinian militants and Osama bin Laden's terror network.

The defendant, Nabil Okal, denied any connection to al-Qaida, saying he only received self-defense training from Islamic militants in Pakistan and Afghanistan.

Prime Minister Ariel Sharon said in December that al-Qaida members had infiltrated the Gaza Strip and Lebanon and were working to target Israel. He did not provide details.

Since the Sept. 11 attacks, Israel has sought to link its conflict with the Palestinians to the war on terrorism.

The Palestinians have denied any connection to al-Qaida.

U.N. appeals for urgent funds for North Korea

UNITED NATIONS -- Secretary-General Kofi Annan appealed for funds Monday to "avert a major humanitarian crisis" in North Korea and create better conditions to peacefully resolve the nuclear standoff.

Annan's urgent appeal followed talks with his personal envoy, Maurice Strong, who visited North Korea last month and told the secretary-general that desperately needed food and medicine will soon be unavailable.

After his visit, Strong warned that the pipeline of food and medicine that 6 to 8 million North Koreans depended on was drying up and there was "an urgent need to keep that pipeline flowing."

North Korea has been relying on outside aid since the mid-1990s to help feed its 22 million people.

Two Palestinians killed by army fire in Gaza Strip

JERUSALEM -- Israeli tank fire killed two Palestinian farmers in the Gaza Strip on Monday, and soldiers arrested a leader of Yasser Arafat's Fatah group on the West Bank.

Meanwhile, an opinion poll indicated that Palestinians are increasingly feeling the economic pinch of their 28-month-old conflict with Israel.

In the village of Abassan in the Gaza Strip, Israeli tanks fired shells and machine guns in an open area, killing two men, ages 60 and 29, and wounding four others with shrapnel and gunshots, Palestinian security officials said.

The Israeli military said the shots were fired about 60 yards from a restricted border fence.

U.S. soldier shot, wounded in southern Germany

BERLIN -- A U.S. soldier was seriously wounded by gunfire early Monday after he pulled his car off the road in southern Germany to clean ice from the windshield, police said.

The 26-year-old private first class from the U.S. Army's 1st Infantry Division was wearing civilian clothes when he was shot in the left hand and leg on his way to the barracks in Schweinfurt, 60 miles east of Frankfurt, Schweinfurt police spokesman Karl-Heinz Schmitt said in a statement.

Police said they were focusing on a personal motive, after both German investigators and U.S. military officials said there were no indications of a terror attack.

The shooting took place around 5 a.m. about three miles from the Schweinfurt barracks, where the 2nd Brigade of the U.S. Army's 1st Infantry Division is stationed.

-- From wire reports

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