World briefs 10A

Sunday, February 1, 2004

Afghan president: 10 civilians killed in airstrike

KABUL, Afghanistan -- The Afghan president on Saturday said a U.S. airstrike this month killed 10 civilians, including women and children, contradicting American military reports that claimed the casualties were Taliban militants. President Hamid Karzai said an Interior Ministry report had found that the Jan. 17 airstrike on a village killed 10 civilians -- despite the U.S. military's declaration that five Taliban militants and no civilians died. The Jan. 17 raid followed two botched air strikes on villages in December that killed 15 children.

Troops practice mock attack on Guantanamo

GUANTANAMO BAY NAVAL BASE, Cuba -- Firing heavy machine-guns and mortars, U.S. soldiers practiced repulsing a commando attack Saturday at the maximum-security prison for terror suspects at Guantanamo Bay. While the possibility of terrorists trying to break out prisoners seems remote, it's crucial for the soldiers to be prepared, said Capt. Gregg Langevin, a 33-year-old from the Massachusetts Army National Guard. "There have been reports that the al-Qaida are out there actively trying to buy small crafts," Langevin said, suggesting a stealthy approach from the coast.

Lebanon buries bodies of returned militants

BEIRUT, Lebanon -- Thousands of mourners Saturday attended funerals across Lebanon for dozens of militant guerrillas whose bodies were identified after this week's mass prisoner exchange with Israel. On Friday, the remains of 59 militants crossed from Israel to Lebanon, the last step of a complex prisoner exchange between Hezbollah and Israel. The bodies were taken to the capital Beirut in a slow procession of trucks carrying the coffins and after joint prayers were handed over to their respective groups for funerals.

Threats cause BA, Air France to cancel flights

LONDON -- British Airways and Air France on Saturday announced the cancellation of seven flights to and from the United States because of security concerns. BA canceled four flights between Heathrow Airport and Washington today and Monday and one from Heathrow to Miami today. Air France canceled two Paris-to-Washington flights. There are no plans to raise the terror alert in the United States because of the latest threats, Homeland Security Department spokesman Brian Roehrkasse said. A U.S. government official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the reported threats appeared to be targeting a handful of specific flights on three airlines -- Air France, British Airways and a U.S.-based carrier that flies internationally. The official declined to identify the third airline.

200 missing from barge that sank in Congo

KINSHASA, Congo -- Nearly 200 people were missing after a barge caught fire and sank in a river in northwestern Congo, the United Nations said Saturday. At least 301 of the nearly 500 people aboard the barge survived Monday's accident on the Congo River near the town of Lukelela, said Alexandre Essome, spokesman for the U.N. Mission in Congo in the northwestern city of Mbandaka. One person was confirmed dead and at least one other suffered severe burns, he said. The fire started after a technician trying to repair a broken motor inadvertently set off a spark near a fuel barrel, Essome said. The blaze spread quickly because most of the vessel was made of wood, forcing panicked passengers to jump into the Congo River and survivors to swim to shore.

Blast at Afghan arms dump kills 8 U.S. troops

The U.S. military said it suffered its worst one-time loss of life among its 9,000 forces in Afghanistan when eight soldiers died in an arms dump blast on Thursday near Ghazni, about 90 miles southwest of Kabul. Hilferty said the soldiers were preparing to destroy a cache of mortar rounds and rifle ammunition when one or more of them detonated. Investigators say the blast appears to have been an accident.

-- From wire reports

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