Archive for Thursday, October 24, 2002

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October 24, 2002

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Israel

Arrests on spy charges include army officer

Israeli security forces arrested a high-ranking army officer and nine other people on suspicion of spying for the Lebanese Hezbollah guerrillas, the military and a lawyer for the officer said Wednesday.

Iran-backed Hezbollah is a bitter enemy of Israel, and the prospect of an Israeli officer cooperating with the guerrillas is almost unheard of. Hezbollah often fired rockets at Israeli border villages during an 18-year war with Israeli troops who occupied a strip of southern Lebanon until May 2000.

The officer, a lieutenant colonel, was arrested on suspicion of providing Hezbollah with information on troop deployments in exchange for money and drugs.

The officer is a Bedouin, army officials said. Israeli Bedouins are not conscripted into the army, but many volunteer for service. Most Israeli Arabs, who make up about a sixth of the country's population, do not serve in the military.

Australia

German tourist killed in crocodile attack

A 13-foot crocodile killed a German tourist who was swimming in one of Australia's largest national parks, police said Wednesday.

The 24-year-old woman, whose identity was not released, was in a waterhole late Tuesday in Kakadu National Park in northern Australia when she disappeared. Witnesses said they heard her scream and she vanished beneath the water.

Park rangers retrieved the woman's body Wednesday morning after harpooning and killing a 13-foot crocodile slightly more than a mile from where the woman was attacked.

"The harpooning caused the crocodile to let go of what he had," Northern Territory Police Commander Max Pope said.

Pope said the tour group ignored signs warning about the danger of crocodiles. The park contains both freshwater and saltwater crocodiles.

India

25 killed in fires at fireworks factories

Fires broke out in two fireworks factories in southern India, killing at least 25 people, police said Wednesday.

The fires hit the factories as Hindus prepared for Diwali, a religious festival next month that is celebrated with fireworks.

One fire erupted early Wednesday in a warehouse, killing 13 people and critically injuring four. Most of the victims were sleeping in a small inn next door to the factory in a crowded section of the southern city of Hyderabad, capital of Andhra Pradesh state, officials said.

In neighboring Tamil Nadu state, 12 people were killed in a fire Tuesday night at a straw-thatched firecracker warehouse in Villupuram, 110 miles south of Madras, the state capital.

Police were investigating both blazes.

Colombia

Nearly 3 tons of cocaine seized

The Colombian navy seized 2.75 tons of cocaine when officials intercepted a speedboat on the high seas Tuesday, authorities said.

The crew of the speedboat tried to sink it when the navy approached some 60 miles off the coast of Buenaventura in western Colombia. Packages of cocaine floated to the surface, however, and Navy divers were able to recover more packages.

All five crew members were arrested. They told officials they were headed to the Colombian island of Malpelo where they were to turn over the drugs to someone on an oceanliner headed for Central America or the United States, the navy said.

The Colombian navy has seized 57 tons of cocaine so far this year. Colombia produces 90 percent of the world's cocaine and the majority of the heroin used in the United States last year.

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