World briefs 8/6/04

Sahara region swept by locust infestation

NOUAKCHOTT, Mauritania -- Clouds of locusts swarmed this West African city Thursday, crunching underfoot, blurring people's vision and causing traffic accidents as sub-Sahara's biggest plague of the insects in more than a decade swept south from the desert. Burning smoky bonfires of tires and trash, the people of Nouakchott tried to fight back the onslaught of the crop-eating bugs -- estimated by the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization to be settling at a rate of 200,000 locusts per acre.

Israel begins road for West Bank expansion

MAALEH ADUMIM, West Bank -- Israeli bulldozers churned across a West Bank hill Thursday, gouging a rough road needed for a government plan to build housing in an area it hopes to make a permanent part of the Jewish state, despite strong objections from both the Palestinian leadership and the Bush administration. The road would link the sprawling Jewish settlement of Maaleh Adumim to Jerusalem, four miles away, and officials confirmed Thursday that they foresee thousands of new homes along the route -- despite calls for a halt to growth of Israeli settlements.

Afghan charged in killings of four foreign journalists

KABUL, Afghanistan -- Authorities have charged a man in the 2001 killings of four foreign journalists who were pulled from their vehicles and shot as they rushed to the Afghan capital after the collapse of the Taliban, a prosecutor said Thursday. Reza Khan faces trial in the slaying of one victim and the rape of another -- crimes he confessed to in an interview broadcast this week on state television.

Pakistani army helicopter crashes; 13 soldiers dead

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan -- A Pakistani army helicopter crashed Thursday in a remote northwestern tribal region, killing all 13 soldiers aboard, Pakistan's army said. The MI-17 helicopter went down after developing a "technical fault" in the district of Karak near North Waziristan.

Nigerian police find 50 bodies in cult shrines

LAGOS, Nigeria -- Police in eastern Nigeria discovered body parts, skulls and more than 50 corpses, some partly mummified, in shrines where a secretive cult was believed to have carried out ritual killings, officers said Thursday. Some victims may have died after swallowing poison to prove their innocence. Two religious leaders and 28 others have been arrested in connection with the cult, which was feared and obeyed by people living near wooded areas -- one known as "the evil forest" -- where the 20 shrines were located, police said.

-- From wire reports