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World briefs 9/26/03

Friday, September 26, 2003

VARA aid worker killed in Afghanistan ambush

KANDAHAR, Afghanistan -- Gunmen ambushed a pickup truck carrying three Afghan aid workers, killing one of them, injuring the driver and prompting their agency to suspend operations in the region, officials said Thursday.

The pickup came under fire in Ozikhushk, in Helmand province, about 60 miles northwest of Kandahar, said Mohammed Ismail, who is in charge of security for the Voluntary Association for the Rehabilitation of Afghanistan, or VARA.

No one claimed responsibility for Wednesday's attack.

"This is the work of terrorists who do not want peace and stability in Afghanistan," Ismail said.

Pope resumes schedule after intestinal illness

VATICAN CITY -- Pope John Paul II resumed his regular schedule Thursday, indicating he has recovered from the intestinal illness that forced him to skip an appearance a day earlier.

The pope was also returning to Vatican City, a day earlier than planned, after more than two months in Castel Gandolfo, his vacation home in the Alban Hills south of Rome. No explanation was given for moving up the return.

Officials said no announcement on the pope's condition was planned, calling this an indication that John Paul was clearly better.

His schedule Thursday included meetings with visiting bishops from the Philippines, the mayor and other officials of Castel Gandolfo for a customary farewell and with the security forces who protected him at the lakeside palace.

China plans manned spaceflight within month

BEIJING -- China's first manned spacecraft could be launched "as early as next month" from a pad in the country's remote northwest and will probably contain one crew member, the official Communist Party newspaper reported Thursday.

People's Daily, in its online edition, gave no further details about a timetable for the Shenzhou 5, which the government has said will hurtle into space with a Chinese crew aboard by 2004. The flight will probably last 24 hours, the newspaper said.

The mention of the schedule in a lengthy general article about China's dreams of manned spaceflight was the most specific signal yet by the Chinese government that such a launch is imminent.

"China's first piloted space journey could occur as early as next month," the article said. "The Shenzhou 5 is set to soar."

Police arrest suspect in the USS Cole bombing

SAN'A, Yemen -- Police have arrested one of 10 suspected al-Qaida militants who escaped from imprisonment in Yemen for the terrorist bombing of the USS Cole, an officer said Thursday.

The officer said the fugitive was taken into custody Tuesday in Aden, the port city where he had been detained in connection with the 2000 suicide bombing of the warship, which killed 17 U.S. sailors.

The United States has blamed the USS Cole attack on the al-Qaida terror group led by Osama bin Laden, who is of Yemeni origin. Two bombers detonated explosives while their small boat was alongside the destroyer as it refueled in Aden.

The officer, who spoke on condition of anonymity, refused to identify the man or say how he was re-captured. But worshippers at an Aden mosque told The Associated Press the suspect surrendered to police after negotiations between his family and local officials.

The man is the only one of the 10 fugitives returned to custody.

The April 11 breakout from a heavily guarded prison in Aden caused deep embarrassment for the Yemeni government, which supports the Bush administration's campaign against terrorism and has received U.S. aid to upgrade its security forces.

Officials suspended three Aden police officers responsible for prison security. The government offered a $8,300 reward for information leading to the men's arrest.-- From wire reports


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