Nation/world briefs 7/1/04

Thursday, July 1, 2004

Fire in Arizona threatens mountain town, homes

PAYSON, Ariz. -- Fire crews burned trees and brush around this mountain town of 14,000 on Wednesday to keep a spreading wildfire from coming any closer. Seventeen buildings, including homes, barns and sheds, were considered threatened by the fire, which remained five miles away, said a fire crew member. The fire has burned roughly 32,000 acres and was considered only 3 percent contained.

Military launches strike at terror leader hideout

BAGHDAD, Iraq -- The U.S. military launched another airstrike early today against a suspected hideout of terrorist mastermind Abu Musab al-Zarqawi in Fallujah. It was the fourth attack since June 1 against targets in the city. Brig. Gen. Mark Kimmitt, deputy operations director for the multinational force, said the attack was carried out after "multiple confirmations of Iraqi and multinational intelligence."

Authorities find 28 illegals at small hotel

LOS ANGELES -- Police found 28 suspected illegal Mexican immigrants who were being held by smugglers at a small hotel, authorities said. The smugglers fled before police arrived Tuesday night at the Polaris Hotel in South Los Angeles, Sgt. Michael Parlor said. The immigrants had arrived in the United States in recent days, said Marie Sebrechts, an Immigration and Customs Enforcement spokeswoman. There were 25 men, two women and one child in two rooms.

Bombs kill one, injure dozens in Afghanistan

KABUL, Afghanistan -- Two bombs hidden in crates of fruit exploded at security checkpoints in downtown Jalalabad on Wednesday, killing a man and wounding 26 other people. The blasts occurred a few minutes apart, shattering the windows of nearby homes and shops in the city, 80 miles east of Kabul. One man died at a hospital. Five police officers and five children were among the wounded, said a spokesman for the provincial government.

Astronauts try risky walk again, replace breaker

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. -- Determined to do better than last week, the international space station's two astronauts ventured back outside Wednesday on an unusually risky spacewalk and replaced a bad circuit board. American spaceman Mike Fincke and his Russian partner Gennady Padalka were so eager to get the repair work done that they popped open the hatch almost a half-hour early. "There's no need to hurry," cautioned Mission Control.-- From wire reports

One in 10 students face sexual misconduct at school

WASHINGTON -- More than 4.5 million students endure sexual misconduct by employees at their schools, from inappropriate jokes all the way to forced sex, according to a report to Congress. The best estimate available shows nearly one in 10 kids faces misbehavior ranging from unprofessional to criminal sometime between kindergarten and 12th grade, says the report by Charol Shakeshaft, a Hofstra University professor.

Russian intelligence officers convicted of assassination

DOHA, Qatar -- In a verdict with implications for the war on terror, a court convicted two Russian intelligence officers of assassinating a Chechen rebel leader and ordered both to serve 25 years in prison for a car bombing the judge said Russia's government approved. The decision was regarded by some as a major embarrassment for President Vladimir Putin, whose government has waged a fierce crackdown on rebels in the breakaway Chechen republic.

First Individual Ready Reserves get call Tuesday

WASHINGTON -- It could be a long weekend for thousands of former soldiers. The Army says it will begin notifying more than 5,600 of those soldiers next week that they are being involuntarily recalled to active duty and could be sent to Iraq or Afghanistan as early as this fall. Most of the former soldiers recently left the Army as truck drivers, mechanics, supply clerks, administrative clerks or combat engineers. All will be kept on active duty for at least 18 months but not longer than two years. The first formal notifications are due to arrive in mailboxes on Tuesday.

Britain says servicemen forcibly escorted to Iranian waters

LONDON -- Eight British servicemen seized by Iranian troops last week on the Iran-Iraq border say they were "forcibly escorted into Iranian territorial waters" before they were detained, Britain's Defense Ministry said Wednesday. Tehran claimed the six Royal Marines and two Royal Navy sailors had strayed into the Iranian side of the Shatt al-Arab waterway. It held the men for four days, prompting a diplomatic standoff.

Government struggles with fallout from Guantanamo

WASHINGTON -- No one is sure when, where or how, but one day soon defense lawyers will begin filing what could be hundreds of lawsuits seeking the release of foreign-born men held by the United States as potential terrorists. The Supreme Court ruled this week that federal courts can hear the cases of nearly 600 men from more than 40 countries who are held at the Navy base in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. The ruling pretty much stopped there, however, leaving it to other courts, the Bush administration and outside lawyers to sort out what happens next.

Personal problems motive for in-flight bomb threat

MUNICH, Germany -- A Turkish man who made a bomb threat on an airliner and forced the pilot to return to Munich claimed to have been motivated by personal problems, police said Wednesday. The 28-year-old, whose name was not released, waved his cell phone and demanded the plane return a few minutes after the Freebird Airlines Airbus A320 took off Tuesday for Istanbul. "He threatened to set off an explosion if the aircraft did not turn back immediately," police spokesman Josef Bichlmeier said. The pilot alerted air traffic control and turned around.

About 3,000 mourn beheaded S. Korean hostage

BUSAN, South Korea -- A South Korean man beheaded in Iraq was buried Wednesday, and his family asked 3,000 mourners to support the troubled nation where he was killed. Kim Sun-il, a 33-year-old translator at a company supplying the U.S. military, was killed by Islamic militants on June 22, after South Korea refused to bow to his captors' demand to cancel plans to send 3,000 troops to Iraq beginning in August. Kim's funeral was held in a gymnasium decorated with white chrysanthemums and strung with a banner reading "I love Iraq," written in English, Arabic and Korean.

-- From wire reports

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