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AFGHANISTAN

NATO to probe death during rescue attempt

KABUL | NATO will investigate whether a grenade thrown by U.S. military forces killed a British aid worker during a rescue attempt in Afghanistan last week, an alliance spokesman said Monday.

Linda Norgrove, 36, was killed Friday in the raid by U.S. forces in Afghanistan’s eastern Kunar province, after she and three colleagues were kidnapped two weeks earlier. NATO initially said Ms. Norgrove died when captors detonated a bomb as NATO forces attempted to free her.

However, British Prime Minister David Cameron said Monday that Ms. Norgrove was possibly killed by a grenade lobbed by a member of the U.S. special forces rescue team.

A spokesman at NATO headquarters in Kabul said the rescue mission leader saw surveillance footage of the raid, talked with members of the rescue team and decided “it was not conclusive what the cause of her death was.”

CHINA

Top Chinese leader praises North Korea

BEIJING | Close ally China on Monday invited Kim Jong-il and North Korea’s new leadership to visit the country, state media reported, in apparent approval for his reclusive regime’s planned succession.

The invitation was made in a meeting in Pyongyang between Zhou Yongkang, the ruling Communist Party’s ninth-ranking leader, and the North’s supreme leader Kim Jong-il, the official Xinhua news agency reported.

IRAN

Hard-liners target top private university

TEHRAN | Iran’s leader issued a decree Monday paving the way for a hard-line takeover of the country’s largest private university, a crushing blow to the nation’s moderates.

The Islamic Azad University is the center of power for former President Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, noted pragmatist and a key supporter of Iran’s moderates. The institution, which was founded in 1982, was a major site for opposition protests against the 2009 disputed re-election of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, which opponents say was fraudulent.

Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei’s decree declared the university’s endowment, which keeps it financially independent, to be religiously illegitimate and therefore null and void.

HUNGARY

Firm head detained over toxic sludge

DEVECSER | Hungarian police have detained the director of the aluminum company responsible for a flood of caustic red sludge that killed eight people when it burst from its reservoir last week, the prime minister said Monday.

Police said they were questioning Managing Director Zoltan Bakonyi on suspicion of public endangerment causing multiple deaths and environmental damage.

Prime Minister Viktor Orban told parliament that the government wanted to take over MAL Rt., the Hungarian Aluminum Production and Trade Company, because the safe restart of production at the aluminum plant was needed to save the jobs of thousands of workers.

SOUTH AFRICA

Woman acquitted in Winfrey school scandal

JOHANNESBURG | A woman accused of abusing teenagers at Oprah Winfrey’s school for girls in South Africa was acquitted of the charges Monday, and Miss Winfrey said she was “profoundly disappointed” by the trial’s outcome.

Prosecutors had accused former school matron Tiny Virginia Makopo of trying to kiss and fondle girls at the school soon after it opened in 2007 outside Johannesburg. Ms. Makopo also had been accused of assaulting one of the teens as well as a fellow supervisor.

The lavish $40 million Oprah Winfrey Leadership Academy for Girls, which opened in January 2007, aims to give girls from deprived backgrounds a quality education in a country where schools are struggling to overcome the legacy of apartheid.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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