World briefs 2/16/05

Wednesday, February 16, 2005

S. Korea proposes military talks with North

DORA OBSERVATION POST, South Korea -- South Korea has proposed high-level military talks with North Korea, focusing on ways to avoid accidental clashes now that the North has admitted to having nuclear weapons. South Korea's defense ministry said the talks would be a way of engaging the communist North even as it refuses to return to six-nation talks on its nuclear program.

Kerosene heater sparked fatal Tehran mosque fire

TEHRAN, Iran -- A mosque fire that killed 59 people and injured another 350 was blamed on a kerosene heater that was placed too close to a thick curtain that separated male and female worshippers, an Iranian news agency reported Tuesday. A survivor of Monday's fire said some of the deaths were caused by a stampede of panicked people trying to escape the flames racing through the Arg Mosque, which was more crowded than usual because of a Muslim holiday.

Fingerprint may prove da Vinci painted work

ROME -- A fingerprint and stylistic touches uncovered during restoration of a disputed Renaissance masterpiece raises the possibility it may have been painted by Leonardo da Vinci, who sometimes left his imprint on works as a kind of signature, restorers said Tuesday. "The Adoration of the Christ Child" in Rome's Galleria Borghese has for decades been attributed to Fra Bartolomeo, but scholars have never been confident of authorship. Through the centuries, candidates have included Raphael, Ghirlandaio and Lorenzo di Credi.

U.N. group: Terror attacks becoming more brutal

UNITED NATIONS -- A U.N. team monitoring sanctions on al-Qaida predicted Tuesday there will be an escalation in the brutality of terrorist attacks, saying the network remains determined to strike around the world. Terrorism involving al-Qaida and weapons of mass destruction remain among the paramount global threats, the team said in a report. Al-Qaida still had a strong interest in acquiring chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear weapons, and it was only "a matter of time" before a successful attack occurs, the report said.

Indonesian tsunami survivors get new homes

BANDA ACEH, Indonesia -- A few hundred tsunami survivors traded their cramped and dirty tents for government barracks with kitchens and latrines Tuesday in a sign that aid pouring into this province is shifting away from emergency relief toward more permanent reconstruction. About 100,000 people in the shattered Aceh province have been living in tents in overcrowded camps, many built on ground still swampy from the tsunami, since soon after the Dec. 26 disaster.

Germany deports imam suspected of extremism

STUTTGART, Germany -- An Egyptian imam accused of preaching violent Islamic extremism has been deported to his homeland, authorities said Tuesday. The 37-year-old imam, identified only as El Beih, had preached sermons in which he called the United States the "true terrorists" and a "Satan" that threatened the Islamic world, state Interior Minister Heribert Rech said. The imam also called for people to be willing to fight and die for Islam, Rech said. "There is no place in our country for people like this, and they must leave Germany as quickly as possible," Rech said.

Afghan army hoping for high-tech weapons

KABUL, Afghanistan -- As the United States accelerates its training of Afghanistan's fledgling army, the nation's defense minister has revealed a list of high-tech weaponry he says his nation needs to defend itself. Defense Minister Rahim Wardak said his requests include Apache helicopter gunships and A-10 ground attack planes, which the more than 1,000 American trainers embedded with the new Afghan army can currently call in from U.S. bases in an emergency.

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