- The Washington Times - Friday, March 21, 2003

NORWAY

Kurdish mullah charged in kidnapping

OSLO Mullah Krekar, the leader of a Kurdish guerrilla group suspected of links to al Qaeda, was arrested by Norwegian police yesterday on kidnapping charges.

Police arrested Krekar at his home in Oslo. Spokesman Erling Grimstad said authorities were looking into widening the charges against him, but did not elaborate.

Krekar was questioned by Norway's intelligence agency last month when he admitted to briefly holding nine men in Iraq in December 2001.

No further details were available.

Krekar, who commanded the Kurdish Ansar al-Islam group in northern Iraq, has denied the accusations.


CANADA

U.S. media battles trial censorship

VANCOUVER Five U.S. media organizations asked an appeals court yesterday to overturn inclusion of the Internet in a publication ban covering a preliminary hearing in Canada's worst serial-killing case.

The Associated Press, the Seattle Times and three Seattle television stations also asked for the release of affidavits that were introduced in support of extending the ban in the case of Robert Pickton.

Mr. Pickton, 53, is accused of killing 15 women who were among more than 60 prostitutes and drug addicts missing from downtown Vancouver during the past 25 years.

He has said little during the preliminary proceedings, but in a defense statement, he denied killing one of the women.


GAZA STRIP

Saddam rewards Palestinian families

GAZA CITY As allied forces began their assault on Iraq, families of Palestinians killed in fighting with Israel got $210,000 from Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein.

Throughout nearly 30 months of battles, Iraq has paid more than $35 million to the families of Palestinian civilians and suicide bombers killed in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Using a tiny pro-Iraq faction in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, Saddam's regime doled out $10,000 checks to the families of 21 Palestinians.


HONG KONG

Tourist hotel blamed for disease

The global spread of the mysterious flulike illness that has killed 10 persons in the past three weeks appears to have started with a guest in a tourist hotel here.

Hong Kong health officials said yesterday that other guests who caught the disease then carried it to a Hong Kong hospital, Vietnam, Singapore and Canada.

Three of the seven persons who stayed on the ninth floor of the Metropole Hotel died from severe acute respiratory syndrome.

There are now 306 persons sick with the disease, according to the World Health Organization.


SOUTH KOREA

Marines storm beach in war games

TOKSOK-RI Hundreds of U.S. Marines stormed a South Korean beach today, carrying out war games that North Korea charges are a prelude to an invasion.

The maneuvers, supported by fighter jets from warships just offshore, came even as other Marines, U.S. troops and allies crossed into Iraq in a march to disarm President Saddam Hussein.

South Korean and U.S. Marines came ashore on amphibious assault vehicles amid mock explosions.

Waves of helicopters and fighter jets droned overhead during the exercises, part of ongoing annual maneuvers.

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