- The Washington Times - Friday, August 19, 2005

SAUDI ARABIA

Terrorist chief killed in gun duel

RIYADH — Police raids touched off fierce gunbattles yesterday that killed six Islamist extremists, and authorities said the dead included al Qaeda’s leader in Saudi Arabia, in whose hide-out the head of a slain American was found last summer.

Saleh Mohammed al-Aoofi, the kingdom’s top fugitive, had led local al Qaeda operations since his predecessor was killed by police a year ago during a crackdown on religious militants in the homeland of Osama bin Laden and most of the September 11 suicide hijackers.

Al-Aoofi was thought to be involved in the June 2004 kidnapping and beheading of engineer Paul M. Johnson Jr. A few weeks after the slaying, police found Mr. Johnson’s head in a freezer at an apartment that had been used by al-Aoofi.

CHINA

Americans held in church raids

SHANGHAI — Authorities in northern China detained five American church workers in raids on unofficial Protestant church groups, a U.S.-based monitoring group said yesterday.

Four Americans, including a married couple, were held after authorities broke up a Christian fellowship service Monday in Luoyang in Henan province, about 460 miles southwest of Beijing, the China Aid Association said.

Police also detained 27 Chinese citizens in the raid.

Another American was detained while walking in the nearby city of Yichuan, the Texas-based aid association said.

ITALY

London bomb suspect to be extradited

ROME — An Italian court has approved the extradition to Britain of a London bombing suspect but said he must remain in Italy for another 35 days so Italian authorities can finish their investigations.

The three-judge panel granted a request by Italian prosecutors Wednesday to delay the transfer of Hamdi Issac, who is suspected in the July 21 failed bombings on London’s transit system.

ECUADOR

9 bound for U.S. survive sunken boat

MANTA — Last week, 113 men, women and children boarded a tiny fishing boat with dreams of a new life in the United States. Yesterday, only nine were thought to be alive after clinging for days to debris in the Pacific Ocean, watching their companions let go — one by one — and slip below the water.

The group assembled before sunrise last Friday in Esmeraldas, 125 miles north of Manta. The 65-foot fishing boat was built for 10 persons, Ecuador’s navy said, but the smugglers loaded 113 aboard for the journey to Guatemala, expected to last six or seven days. The passengers then planned to continue north by land, crossing Mexico and entering the United States illegally. The trip to Guatemala cost them $10,000 apiece.

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