Deal to free Germans held hostage fails
SAN’A — A deal for the release of a kidnapped former German diplomat and his family has fallen through after tribesmen who abducted the group backed out of the agreement, a Yemeni official said today.
The hostages were being driven to the mountaintop negotiating site in Shabwa province in eastern Yemen, where the abduction occurred, when the deal fell apart, said the area’s deputy governor, Nasser Ba’oum.
The agreement had called for Yemeni negotiators to exchange themselves, according to Sheik Awadh Bin al-Wazir, a parliament deputy and a key member of the negotiating team.
The tribesmen abducted Juergen Chrobog, his wife and three children as they toured the mountains of eastern Yemen on Wednesday.
6 killed, 43 hurt in Sulawesi blast
JAKARTA — A blast that was probably a bomb rocked a crowded market in Indonesia’s Central Sulawesi today, police said, and a television station reported that six persons were killed.
Another local news report said 43 persons were hurt.
“Our prediction because of the sound of the explosion was that it seems it was a bomb,” said Rais Adam, Central Sulawesi police spokesman.
American base to join airport
FRANKFURT — The U.S. Air Force yesterday handed over the keys to Rhein-Main Air Base to the operator of Frankfurt International Airport, the last step in closing the base that hosted American forces for 60 years.
The 120 buildings on the base are to be bulldozed to make way for a third terminal for Frankfurt’s sprawling civilian airport — continental Europe’s busiest. It officially becomes German property today.
Four police officers killed by rebels
KANDAHAR — Suspected Taliban rebels detonated a mine near a police checkpoint in southern Afghanistan, killing four Afghan police officers and wounding seven, authorities said yesterday.
The attack occurred late Thursday in Helmand province as the officers were eating dinner, Nazarjusth district Police Chief Haji Bahadur Khan said.
He said the mine was buried in the road near the checkpoint and remotely detonated.
American teen sent packing
BAGHDAD — An American teenager ran away to Baghdad over Christmas and survived probably the most dangerous destination in the world before being packed off home by the U.S. military, U.S. officials said yesterday.
Farris Hassan, the 16-year-old son of Iraqi immigrants to Florida, left home without permission and sent his parents an e-mail saying “I’ll be in Iraq for a while,” his mother said.
Farris, who hopes to become a journalist and was writing an essay on Iraq for a school project, flew to Baghdad on Dec. 25.
Famine threatens East Africa again
ADDIS ABABA — Drought has triggered extreme food shortages in three East African countries, putting millions of people at risk of famine as the lean dry season approaches, a humanitarian group said.
Pre-famine conditions have already emerged in eastern Ethiopia, including escalating malnutrition, reports of child deaths, early human and livestock migration and rising sorghum prices, the U.S.-funded Famine Early Warning Systems Network said Thursday.
The drought has also affected neighboring Somalia and Kenya.
Terrorist threat leads to tighter security
BANGALORE — High-tech firms, the Indian space agency and nuclear facilities stepped up security yesterday after an unknown group threatened suicide attacks against a top politician and New Year’s revelers in India’s technology hub, officials said.
Police set up barricades, patrolled streets and searched cars in Bangalore, trying to thwart potential bombings, said the police chief of southern Karnataka state, B.S. Sial.
A letter from a previously unknown militant group was faxed to several newspapers late Thursday threatening a series of suicide bombings in Bangalore, the state’s capital.
From wire dispatches and staff reports