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Archive for Thursday, May 29, 2003

Briefly

May 29, 2003

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Colombia

First leftist rebel extradited to U.S.

A Colombian rebel suspected in the deaths of three Americans was flown under heavy security Wednesday to the United States -- the first guerrilla extradited by Colombia to face U.S. justice.

Nelson Vargas Rueda, a member of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, has been accused in the 1999 execution-style slayings of Terence Freitas, 24, of Los Angeles; Ingrid Washinawatok, 41, of New York City; and Lahe'ena'e Gay, 39, of Pahoa, Hawaii.

The Americans were in Colombia to help set up a school system for the 5,000-member U'wa Indian tribe, in the vast eastern plains bordering Venezuela.

Vargas is one of six members of the FARC, as the rebel group is known by its Spanish acronym, indicted in April 2002 in federal court in Washington, D.C. for the slayings.

Morocco

Suspect in bombing dies in police custody

Authorities arrested a man suspected of coordinating the bombings in Casablanca that killed 31 people, but he died in custody, judicial officials said Wednesday.

The man, captured Monday in Fez, was identified as "Abdelhak" or "Moul Sebbat," which means "shoe-seller," said Alaoui Belghiti, the prosecutor general of the appeals court of Casablanca.

Belghiti said the suspect suffered from heart disease and died while being transferred to a hospital.

Moroccan officials released no other details about him.

The near simultaneous blasts on May 16 against five locations in Casablanca -- a Jewish community center, a Spanish social club, the Belgian consulate, a Jewish-owned restaurant and a major hotel -- killed 31 people in addition to 12 of the 14 suicide bombers.

Afghanistan

Bomb blast does little damage to U.S. vehicle

Attackers set off a remote-controlled bomb near a vehicle carrying U.S. special forces along Afghanistan's eastern border with Pakistan, but no casualties were reported, a U.S. military spokesman said Wednesday.

The device went off as the troops were conducting a reconnaissance patrol at a border checkpoint near the eastern town of Khost, Col. Rodney Davis, the U.S. military spokesman, said in a statement from Bagram Air Base.

"The device was detonated by remote control. There were no injuries and only a cracked windshield and headlamp to the vehicle," Davis said.

In Gardez, northwest of Khost, attackers fired two rockets Wednesday afternoon toward a U.S. base in the town, said the Afghan military commander, Abdul Matin Hasankhiel.

The rockets, however, fell far short of their target and exploded in a deserted area two miles south of Gardez, Hasankhiel said.

Nepal

Helicopter crashes near Mount Everest

A helicopter flying near Mount Everest with nine passengers and crew crashed at a base camp for climbers Wednesday, airport officials said.

Officials said two Nepalese people were killed. A British Broadcasting Corp. correspondent at the scene reported three deaths.

Huge pieces of the aircraft flew into the air as it attempted to land in the shadow of Everest. The cause of the crash was not known.

The Russian-built MI-17 helicopter belonged to Simrik Air, a domestic company.

Among the injured was its pilot. He and another person were in critical condition and were flown to the Nepalese capital, Katmandu.

Hundreds of climbers and their team members are in the Mount Everest region to mark the 50th anniversary of the conquest of the world's highest mountain in 1953 by New Zealander Sir Edmund Hillary and Sherpa Tenzing Norgay.

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