World briefs 8/11/05

Thursday, August 11, 2005

Helicopter carrying 14 crashes in Baltic Sea

TALLINN, Estonia -- A helicopter carrying 14 people crashed in the Baltic Sea off the Estonian coast on Wednesday and all aboard were believed killed. The U.S.-made Sikorsky S-76 helicopter, operated by Finnish firm Copterline, was on a commercial flight from the Estonian capital, Tallinn, to Helsinki, Finland, when it went down in strong winds shortly after takeoff near the island of Naissaar, about three miles off the coast, officials said.

Army collects weapons ahead of evacuation

KEREM SHALOM, Israel -- Thousands of Israeli troops prepared Wednesday for some of the worst scenarios in next week's Gaza pullout, from Palestinian mortar fire to settler violence and equipment failure. In a small West Bank settlement also slated for evacuation, residents began turning in their weapons to help ward off violence during the withdrawal. Beginning Aug. 17, some 55,000 soldiers and police will remove some 9,000 Jewish settlers in 21 settlements in the Gaza Strip and four in the West Bank.

Terrorists may target London financial district

LONDON -- The police chief for London's financial district warned Wednesday that terrorists will likely strike the British capital's biggest business hub, where they have already surveyed targets in the area. James Hart said there was no specific intelligence about a forthcoming attack but insisted the district was at risk. Known as the City, London's business quarter is a leading international center for trading.

Turkish police arrest Syrian al-Qaida militant

ANKARA, Turkey -- Turkish police detained a Syrian who is believed to have been a go-between for al-Qaida and a Turkish cell that carried out deadly 2003 bombings in Istanbul and said Wednesday they are pursuing other militants.

-- From wire reports

Turkish media said the Syrian was one of 10 people detained who were plotting to attack Israeli cruise ships docking at vacation resorts on the Mediterranean coast, but police later denied the reports. Israel on Monday urged its citizens not to visit beach resorts on the Mediterranean coast of Turkey and five cruise liners carrying some 5,000 people were diverted from Turkey to Cyprus over the weekend due to terror threats. Israeli officials said Turkish police were aggressively cracking down, but added the terror warning was still in force.

U.N. removes final seals from Iranian nuclear facility

ISFAHAN, Iran -- U.N. inspectors removed the final seals from equipment at a uranium conversion plant in central Iran on Wednesday, paving the way for Tehran to fully open the facility despite U.S. and European calls for it to maintain a suspension. In Vienna, Austria, diplomats with the International Atomic Energy Agency were discussing how to persuade Iran to step back from its nuclear activities and de-escalate its standoff with the West over U.S. allegations that it secretly plans to build atomic bombs. But the head of the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran, Gholamreza Aghazadeh, made clear that Iran would not be deterred from developing its nuclear program, which it says is for peaceful purposes.

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