- - Tuesday, February 28, 2012


Crippled cruise ship to reach land Thursday

NAIROBI, Kenya — A crippled Italian cruise ship being towed in the Indian Ocean with more than 1,000 people aboard and no air conditioning now won’t reach land in the Seychelles until Thursday, officials said.

The cruise ship company said that food, satellite phones and VHF radios would be brought to the Costa Allegra by helicopter.

Photos released on Tuesday showed hundreds of people milling on the ship’s outside decks, and officials said passengers would sleep there as well instead of in their unlit cabins.

The Costa Allegra has 636 passengers and 413 crew members on board: Among them are 212 Italian, 31 British and eight U.S. passengers. Four of the passengers are children ages 3 or younger.

The ship lost power Monday after a fire in its generator room, which knocked out power to the ship’s engines as well as to its lights and air conditioning.

Cruise ship officials said they would take the stranded travelers by Wednesday to the main Seychelles island of Mahe.


Prison time capped for ex-Maryland man

GUANTANAMO BAY NAVAL BASE — A Pakistani man who attended a suburban Baltimore high school and is accused of plotting with the self-proclaimed mastermind of the Sept. 11 attack to blow up fuel tanks in the U.S. would serve no more than 25 years in prison under a plea deal, according to military documents released Tuesday.

Majid Khan would plead guilty to charges that include conspiracy, murder and attempted murder for a range of post-Sept. 11 plots, making him the first of what U.S. officials deem the “high value” prisoners at Guantanamo Bay to be convicted.

Details of the plea deal have not been disclosed, but a sentencing document released before Khan’s hearing on Wednesday sets out the broad outlines.

A jury of military officers could sentence Khan to 25 to 40 years in prison, but the Convening Authority, a Pentagon legal official who oversees the tribunals, would agree not to approve a sentence that exceeds 25 years.


At least 12 killed in Xinjiang riot

BEIJING — At least 12 people were killed in riots Tuesday near the Chinese city of Kashgar in the restive northwestern region of Xinjiang, state media reported.

No details were given about what might have set off the violence, although Xinjiang sees periodic outbreaks of anti-government violence by restless members of the region’s native Turkish Muslim Uighur ethnic group.

The Xinhua News Agency said rioters armed with knives attacked victims in Yecheng county outside the city starting at about 6 p.m. They killed 10 people and police fatally shot two assailants, the report said.

The Xinhua report could not be independently confirmed. Chinese authorities maintain tight control over information and the circumstances surrounding such incidents are often murky.

Xinhua said police were chasing others involved in the attacks but did not say how many suspects there were.

The periodic attacks in the region occur despite a smothering security presence imposed after 2009 riots in the regional capital of Urumqi that pitted Uighurs against migrants from China’s majority Han in which almost 200 people died.

Xinjiang saw more deadly violence last summer, when a group of Uighurs stormed a police station in the city of Hotan on July 18 and took hostages, killing four. Then, just days later on July 30 and 31, Uighurs in Kashgar hijacked a truck, set a restaurant on fire and stabbed people in the street.


EU ministers to back Serbia for EU candidacy

BRUSSELS — EU foreign ministers are recommending that Serbia be allowed to become an official candidate for membership in the 27-nation bloc after Serbia reached a key agreement with its former province of Kosovo.

Swedish Foreign Minister Carl Bildt tweeted congratulations to Serbia after a meeting of the EU’s 27 foreign ministers.

Nicolai Wammen, minister of European affairs for Denmark, which holds the rotating EU presidency, said Serbia had fulfilled the conditions demanded by the bloc.

The final decision on the coveted candidate status for Serbia will be made at a summit this week of European Union leaders.

Serbia had been widely expected to be made a formal EU candidate in December after it captured two top war-crimes suspects, but was disappointed when Germany blocked its candidacy on the grounds that it wanted to see more progress in talks with Kosovo.

Kosovo is a former province of Serbia that came under international control after a 1999 war in which NATO forces ejected Serbian troops. It declared independence in 2008.

Serbia refuses to recognize Kosovo as independent because it considers the area to be the cradle of its statehood and religion.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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