Details of Iran's formal reply to an offer of incentives to stop enriching uranium were being studied Wednesday by the permanent members of the UN Security Council. But the only Western government to comment extensively was France, whose foreign minister said that Iran's wish for negotiations on the nuclear issue could not be granted unless enrichment was suspended first. Chinese and Russian spokesmen both said their governments were continuing to seek a negotiated settlement of the standoff with Iran.
Kidnaped FOX News reporter Steve Centanni and cameraman Olaf Willig appeared on a videotape released Wednesday by a previously unheard-of group in the Gaza Strip, appealing for international help in securing their release. They said they were in "fairly good health" nine days after being seized by militants from the "Holy Jihad Brigades." The latter demanded that the US free "Muslim prisoners" within 72 hours, saying: "Release what you have, and we will release what we have." It did not say what would happen if the demand wasn't met.
Worries that the powerful Muslim militia in Somalia may be turning that nation into a haven for radicals grew Wednesday with a report that it had opened a camp to teach military tactics and "Islamic morality" to hundreds of recruits. Witnesses at the site said they could identify trainers from Pakistan, Afghan-istan, and neighboring Eritrea. Eritrea has sided with the Union of Islamic Courts against the transitional Somali government of Prime Minister Ali Mohamad Ghedi, which, in turn, is backed by troops from rival Ethiopia.
Dutch military jets escorted a Northwest Airlines flight back to Amsterdam's Schiphol Airport Wednesday shortly after takeoff because several passengers were behaving suspiciously. But no other flights were affected, and the Dutch office of terrorism coordination said the incident was not sufficiently serious to raise the national threat-alert level. Security at European airports already had been heightened because of the foiled bombing plot in Britain two weeks ago. The flight was bound for Mumbai (Bombay), India, where a series of terrorist bomb blasts aboard commuter trains last month killed almost 200 people.
Searchers found the flight data and voice recorders Wednesday from a downed Russian airliner that was carrying vacationers back to St. Petersburg from Anapa, a Black Sea resort. All 170 passengers and crew members were killed when the plane crashed near the Ukrainian city of Donetsk. Authorities said the aircraft might have been struck by lightning and that the pilot had reported a fire aboard. Relatives of the victims were being taken to the scene as Ukraine declared a national day of mourning.
Acting on an informant's tip, police in Thailand arrested 175 illegal aliens from North Korea who were hiding in a suburban Bangkok dwelling. Although all were described as asylum-seekers from the communist regime, they will be tried Thursday on charges of illegal entry and will be deported if found guilty, police said. But in that case, they will not be forcibly returned to North Korea, a police commander said.
High school students, angry at the pace of reforms promised by Chile's government, fought with police in the streets of Santiago, Tuesday, resuming a campaign that was suspended two months ago. Dozens of people were hurt, and more than 200 were arrested. In June, three weeks of protests by hundreds of thousands of students for free transportation, the repair of dilapidated school buildings, and other demands won a pledge of $200 million worth of reforms from new President Michelle Bachelet. One protest leader complained, however: "They are doing some work, but much too slowly."