Taliban warns of more attacks
KABUL -- Taliban leader Mullah Mohammed Omar purportedly warned yesterday of a surge in violence, clearly rejecting Afghan President Hamid Karzai's proposal a day earlier to "get in touch" if he wants to talk peace.
Meanwhile, Pakistan said it protested to the U.S. military a cross-border firing that killed eight persons in a Pakistani village, but stopped short of blaming American forces for the attack.
Plane crash kills senior commander
TEHRAN -- A small military passenger jet crashed yesterday in northwestern Iran, killing at least 11 persons, including the commander of the ground forces of Iran's elite Revolutionary Guards.
Gen. Ahmad Kazemi and 10 other officers were killed, the official Islamic Republic News Agency reported.
It was the second time in two months that a military plane crashed in Iran while attempting an emergency landing.
Reclusive leader visits China
SEOUL -- North Korean leader Kim Jong-il has traveled to China on a rare trip outside his country, a South Korean military intelligence official said today.
The official, speaking on the condition of anonymity, said he received the information from intelligence inside China. "We confirmed he went to China," the official said. China's Foreign Ministry said it could not confirm the report.
The visit comes at a sensitive time for North Korea, which is at odds with the United States over stalled international talks aimed at getting Pyongyang to abandon its nuclear weapons program.
Cleric faces trial in hate speech
LONDON -- The trial of cleric Abu Hamza al-Masri on charges of stirring up racial hatred and urging the killing of non-Muslims opened in a London court yesterday.
Mr. Hamza, 47, is the most high-profile figure to go on trial in Britain charged with such offenses since the September 11, 2001, terror attacks in the United States.
The Egyptian-born cleric faces nine counts of using public meetings to incite his followers to kill non-Muslims. Four other charges say he urged the killing of Jews. If found guilty, Mr. Hamza, who has lost both hands and an eye, faces a maximum sentence of life in prison.
John Paul's assailant faces new charges
ANKARA -- The Turk who shot Pope John Paul II in 1981 will be released from prison Thursday, but he might be tried in a military court for purportedly dodging the draft and escaping military custody, an official said yesterday.
A Turkish court decided last week to free Mehmet Ali Agca, 47, on parole, saying he had completed his prison term for crimes committed in Turkey. Agca was extradited to Turkey in 2000 after serving almost 20 years in an Italian prison for shooting and wounding John Paul in St. Peter's Square in Rome on May 13, 1981.
Voting planned in Jerusalem
GAZA STRIP -- Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas said yesterday that Palestinian parliamentary elections will take place as scheduled Jan. 25, after he received U.S. assurances that Arab residents of Jerusalem will be allowed to vote in the city.
Israel initially threatened to ban Palestinian voting in Jerusalem but agreed yesterday to allow campaigning in the city, which is claimed by both sides as a capital. The move was seen as a first step to permitting voting in the city.
From wire dispatches and staff reports