Royal palace evacuated after fire erupts
LONDON Queen Elizabeth’s home, Buckingham Palace, was evacuated yesterday after a fire broke out and smoke billowed from a roof, but firefighters rapidly brought the blaze under control.
Police said no members of the royal family, celebrating 50 years of the queen’s reign at events around the country, were in the palace at the time. “Everyone was safely evacuated and the fire is now contained,” a police spokesman said.
The queen, at the height of her Golden Jubilee celebrations, had hosted a classical music concert for 12,000 people in the garden of the palace on Saturday night and was due to host a pop concert in the same place today.
U.S., coalition forces search Nangarhar
TORKHAM, Pakistan U.S. and coalition forces began searching yesterday for al Qaeda and Taliban fighters in Afghanistan’s Nangarhar province near the Pakistani border, officials said.
Helicopter gunships and B-52s patrolled overhead as a combined force combed the Al Aqsa military base on the main road from Jalalabad to the Pakistani border before moving closer to Torkham, the Pakistani border post.
The Al Aqsa military base is the former stronghold of Muslim hard-liner Abdur Rasool Sayyaf and is said to have been set up with funds provided by Osama bin Laden.
U.S. official hopeful of finding hostages
MANILA U.S. and Philippine forces are getting closer to finding an American couple kidnapped a year ago by Muslim militants, the Pentagon’s second in command said yesterday.
“The trail isn’t cold,” Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz said.
Mr. Wolfowitz arrived yesterday to discuss the search for American missionaries Martin and Gracia Burnham with President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo.
Today, he is to visit the southern island of Basilan, where about 1,000 U.S. troops are in the Philippines to provide training and other support to the Philippine military forces fighting the militants.
Angolan general killed in chopper crash
LUANDA, Angola A helicopter crash yesterday killed 25 persons, including a top Angolan general, news reports said.
The military helicopter came down in bad weather near Ndalatando, 125 miles east of the capital, Luanda, killing Jose Domingues Ngueto, a front-line commander in the nearly three-decade civil war against UNITA rebels, state-owned Radio Nacional de Angola reported.
Journalists and a brigadier also died in the crash, the report said. The helicopter was heading to a demobilization camp where troops for the National Union for the Total Independence of Angola (UNITA) were handing over arms to Angola’s army as part of the peace process.
Decisive Swiss vote to ease abortion laws
GENEVA Swiss voters yesterday overwhelmingly supported legislation making it easier for a woman to obtain an abortion within the first 12 weeks of a pregnancy.
In the national referendum, 72 percent of voters endorsed a proposal passed by Swiss lawmakers last year decriminalizing some abortions by easing the legal requirements on women seeking them and doctors performing them.
However, abortion remains a crime if it is performed within the first 12 weeks of pregnancy without following those requirements or if it is performed after the 12th week of pregnancy without meeting other conditions.
Tenet, Mubarak meet to discuss security
CAIRO CIA Director George J. Tenet discussed security issues yesterday with President Hosni Mubarak at the beginning of a Middle East tour.
The United States is demanding an overhaul of the Palestinian Authority and has sent Mr. Tenet to the region to discuss security reforms.
Egypt is helping the Palestinians reorganize their security structure. Egyptian intelligence chief Omar Suleiman discussed the overhaul with Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat and other Palestinian officials on Saturday.