Nation briefs 5/24/06

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Greek, Turkish fighter planes collide over sea

ATHENS, Greece -- Warplanes from Greece and Turkey collided over the Aegean Sea island of Karpathos as they shadowed each other Tuesday, and officials said the Turkish pilot was rescued unhurt and a search was launched for the Greek pilot. Fighter planes from the two NATO allies frequently intercept each other over the Aegean, mostly in areas of disputed airspace. The Turkish military identified both planes as F-16 fighter jets and said the Turkish pilot, 1st Lt. Halil Ibrahim Ozdemir, was rescued by a merchant ship. Greek authorities said a search was underway for the pilot of the Greek plane.

Committee recommends Hayden to head CIA

WASHINGTON -- Gen. Michael Hayden moved a step closer Tuesday to becoming the nation's 20th CIA chief, where he will take over a spy agency looking for a leader to steer it through troubles ranging from al-Qaida threats to Washington politics. The Senate Intelligence Committee recommended confirmation, 12-3, with three of the panel's seven Democrats voting against him. If the Senate approves him before Memorial Day, as expected, Hayden could be sworn in by the end of the week.

Israel captures militant blamed for 78 deaths

RAMALLAH, West Bank -- A top Hamas fugitive blamed for attacks that killed dozens of Israelis and five Americans surrendered to Israeli troops Tuesday after they ringed his West Bank hideout and threatened to demolish it with him inside. The capture of Ibrahim Hamed, 41, was a blow to Hamas' morale as the Islamic militants engaged in an increasingly bloody power struggle with gunmen and police loyal to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas. Army Col. Amir Abulafiyeh, who oversaw the capture, described Hamed as "creative and cruel" in plotting attacks on a Jerusalem university, where the Americans were killed; an Israeli fuel depot; Israel's rail system; and a pool hall.

'Dr. 90210' helps restrain man on airline flight

LOS ANGELES -- An elderly man on an American Airlines flight was restrained by passengers, including television's "Dr. 90210," after he got out of his seat and shoved a flight attendant late Monday, officials said. The jetliner landed safely in Los Angeles and police took the 80-year-old man, who did not speak English, to a hospital for a 72-hour mental observation, airport spokeswoman Nancy Castles said. None of the five crew members or 122 passengers aboard the MD-80 plane from Austin, Texas, reported injuries, American Airlines spokesman Billy Sanez said. Dr. Robert Rey, a plastic surgeon who practices martial arts, said he got out of his seat and intervened when he heard the man make a "big noise" as he pushed a female flight attendant toward the cockpit.

Contaminated water in Pakistan leaves 7 dead

LAHORE, Pakistan -- At least seven people have died and thousands of others have fallen sick after drinking contaminated water in an industrial city in eastern Pakistan, officials said Tuesday. An outbreak of gastroenteritis began May 14 in Faisalabad, a city famous for its textile mills. The last two fatalities happened Sunday, said Rana Imran, district health officer for Faisalabad. About 4,000 people from a working class neighborhood were treated for diarrhea, stomach cramps and vomiting, and 200 people are still hospitalized, he said. Clean water is being trucked in.

Police release suspect in Holloway disappearance

AMSTERDAM, Netherlands -- The latest lead in the disappearance of Natalee Holloway evaporated Tuesday when Dutch police released a man identified by witnesses as having long, deep scratches on his face shortly after the Alabama teen vanished in Aruba nearly a year ago. The suspect's lawyer said it was not hard to prove the story was nonsense. The man, identified only as "Guido W.," 19, was freed unconditionally with the consent of Aruba prosecutors after six "long, hard days" of questioning, attorney Gerard Spong said. Guido W. remained a suspect and agreed to be available for questioning when summoned by police, Spong said.

-- From wire reports

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