- The Washington Times - Thursday, May 15, 2003


Troops free 17 tourists, but 15 still missing

ALGIERS — Algerian troops stormed the hide-out of an al Qaeda-linked militant group deep in the Sahara Desert and freed 17 European adventure tourists held for two months — but the fate of 15 others was not known, authorities said yesterday.

The daily El Watan said 100 special-forces troops carried out the operation using reconnaissance aircraft equipped with thermal detectors. At least nine militants were killed.

The attack freed 10 Austrians, six Germans and a Swede held by the Salafist Group for Preaching and Combat near the town of Tamanrasset. The group still was holding 10 Germans, four Swiss and one Dutchman near the southern Tuareg city of Illizi, about 750 miles south of the capital Algiers.


10 killed in fighting around U.N. compound

KINSHASA — Rival ethnic groups battled outside a U.N. compound yesterday, killing 10 civilians — including women and children — who tried to crowd into the base where thousands of terrorized people have taken refuge.

Overwhelmed U.N. troops from Uruguay fired in the air to ward off the ethnic groups. A U.N. spokeswoman said stray mortar shells and gunfire riddled the compound during the fighting between Hema and Lendu warriors in the streets of Bunia city.


3 Ericsson workers charged with spying

STOCKHOLM — Three Swedes of Iranian origin went on trial yesterday accused of espionage and industrial espionage at the telecommunications equipment maker Ericsson in a case that led to the expulsion of two Russian diplomats.

Swedish police arrested the three in November when the ringleader was handing over Ericsson documents to a Russian intelligence officer. All three have worked for Ericsson.


5 Palestinians killed in renewed violence

GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip — Israeli forces fatally shot five Palestinians in clashes in the Gaza Strip and the West Bank yesterday, drawing Palestinian accusations that Israel was trying to sabotage a U.S.-led peace initiative.

The bloodshed, which followed a Palestinian mortar attack that wounded 10 Israeli soldiers, showed that the new Middle East peace drive after the Iraq war had scant effect on the daily violence of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Yesterday’s violence in Palestinian areas erupted ahead of U.S.-arranged peace talks between Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon and his new reformist Palestinian counterpart, Mahmoud Abbas. Palestinian officials said the talks are planned for Saturday.


Soviet nuclear subs could turn oil tankers

OSLO — Soviet nuclear submarines could be refitted as oil tankers in the Arctic, a Russian regional governor said at a seminar in northern Norway this week.

Anatoly Yefremov, the governor of Archangelsk, said submarines of the Typhoon class, depicted in Tom Clancy’s spy thriller “The Hunt for Red October,” could carry about 10,000 tons of oil if missile launch rooms were converted into tanks. This is small compared with 280,000 tons that a normal tanker carries.

Russia is seeking to develop oil and gas fields in the Arctic, where tankers risk iceberg collisions or fierce winter storms.


7,000 protest king’s action

KATMANDU — About 7,000 protesters marched in the capital yesterday to denounce King Gyanendra’s dismissal of the elected government last year.

The demonstrators were supporters of Nepal’s major political parties which had refused to participate in Prime Minister Lokendra Bahadur Chand’s government, appointed by the king.

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