World briefs 09/27/02

Friday, September 27, 2002

Iraqi TV: U.S. airstrike hits civilian airport

BAGHDAD, Iraq -- Iraq said a U.S. airstrike hit its civilian airport in the southern port city of Basra. The announcement did not mention casualties.

A Pentagon official said two strikes early Thursday were in response to Iraq's firing anti-aircraft artillery and surface-to-air missiles at allied aircraft patrolling zones declared off-limits to Iraqi planes.

The strike at Basra was aimed at a mobile air defense radar system put at the civilian airport, said Lt. Col. Dave Lapan, a Pentagon spokesman.

Russian helicopter shot down near Chechnya

GALASHKI, Russia -- Chechen insurgents stormed into a neighboring Russian region on Thursday, shooting down a Russian military helicopter and killing at least 14 servicemen on the ground in a fierce firefight.

The outbreak of fighting in Ingushetia, which borders Chechnya, represents a widening of the battleground in the Chechen war, while the third downing of a Russian aircraft in just over one month underlines the military's failure to cut off weapon supplies to the rebels.

The Mi-24 helicopter crashed in the village of Galashki during combat between a group of 150 rebel fighters and Russian troops, said Col. Boris Podoprigora, deputy commander of Russian forces in the North Caucasus region.

Interfax, quoting military and police sources, said the helicopter was brought down by a shoulder-fired anti-aircraft missile, killing two crew members.

Indian minister accuses Pakistan of attack

AHMADABAD, India -- An enemy of India meticulously planned the attack on a well-known Hindu temple in western India to inflame hatred between Hindus and Muslims, a top official said Thursday, in a dig at rival Pakistan.

"They could be from an enemy country ... from outside India," Chief Minister Narendra Modi said, using India's typical way of indirectly blaming its longtime rival, Pakistan.

Pakistan has repeatedly denied any involvement in Tuesday's assault, which left 33 people dead and 76 wounded. Pakistan has also condemned the attack, which occurred in the western state of Gujarat.

"The terrorists were well trained, experienced and highly motivated. From the type of firearms and ammunition and the latest equipment they had on them, they did not look like local people," Modi told a news conference in Ahmadabad.

Greenspan knighted by Queen Elizabeth II

CRATHIE, Scotland -- U.S. Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan received an honorary knighthood from Queen Elizabeth II on Thursday and said he would always cherish the honor.

Greenspan, who has steered the U.S. economy through four presidencies, was given the honor in recognition of his contribution to global economic stability.

Because he is not a British citizen, Greenspan cannot use "Sir" in front of his name, but he can put the letters KBE after it. The initials stand for Knight Commander of the British Empire.

Others Americans who have received honorary knighthoods include former New York City Mayor Rudolph Giuliani, former presidents George Bush and Ronald Reagan, and entertainer Bob Hope.

Explosives discovered on passenger jet

PARIS -- Explosives of the same type as found on alleged shoe bomber Richard Reid were discovered on a Moroccan jet after passengers left the flight at an airport in eastern France, officials said Thursday.

There was no detonator attached to the 3 1/2 ounces of explosives discovered in the passenger section of a Royal Air Maroc airplane on Wednesday night after it landed at the Metz-Nancy-Lorraine airport, according to police.

Judicial sources, speaking on condition of anonymity, identified the explosive material as pentrite and said it was the same as the substance Reid, a British citizen, allegedly tried to detonate on an American Airlines flight from Paris to Miami on Dec. 22.

The airline refused immediate comment on the case when called by The Associated Press.

-- From wire reports

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