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CIA officer killed in accident in Afghanistan

Compiled from Times wires
© St. Petersburg Times
published February 7, 2003

WASHINGTON -- One CIA officer was killed and two others were injured in a training accident in eastern Afghanistan, agency officials said.

The officer, Helge Boes, was killed Wednesday when a grenade detonated prematurely during a live-fire exercise, CIA officials said in a statement issued Thursday evening.

The injuries to the two other officers were not believed to be life-threatening, although one was wounded seriously. Officials did not identify the officers.

The training was in preparation for an unspecified intelligence collection operation, agency officials said.

Boes, 32, who lived in the Virginia suburbs of Washington, was an operations officer assigned to the CIA's Counterterrorism Center, the agency said.

He is the second CIA officer to die in the line of duty in Afghanistan. The first, paramilitary officer Johnny Micheal Spann, was killed during an uprising of Taliban and al-Qaida prisoners in northern Afghanistan on Nov. 25, 2001.

Boes is survived by his wife, Cindy, and his parents, Roderich and Monika Boes of Germany. He was a graduate of Georgia State and Harvard University Law School, and he joined the CIA in January 2001 after working as a lawyer in private practice.

More suicide attempts at prison

WASHINGTON -- The Pentagon said Thursday there has been another suicide attempt among inmates at its Guantanamo Bay prison for terrorist suspects, bringing the number to five in three weeks. An Amnesty International official called for an investigation.

"Medical and psychiatric teams are working to try to prevent further injury or attempts," said Navy Lt. Cmdr. Barbara Burfeind, a Pentagon spokeswoman.

Five new cases of prisoners trying to kill themselves have been confirmed since Jan. 16. Officials declined to say whether it was five separate men or cases of multiple attempts by any one man.

Including the 10 attempts in 2002, the new cases brought the total to 15 since the high-security prison was built on the U.S. naval base a year ago to house men captured in the fight against terrorism.

The rights group Amnesty International has protested the prolonged detention and the uncertainty the men face, saying it may cause physical and psychological harm.

"Clearly, five suicide attempts in a few weeks ought to give grave cause for alarm," Amnesty spokesman Alistair Hodgett said Thursday.

12 suspects indicted in Italy

ROME -- An Italian judge indicted 12 terror suspects Thursday, including nine Moroccans suspected of plotting a chemical attack on the U.S. Embassy in Rome.

The other defendants are a Pakistani, an Algerian and a Tunisian who were allegedly part of a separate group trying to set up a logistical base for terror attacks.

The two groups are not believed to be linked, but all 12 were charged with "subversive association aimed at international terrorism," and will be tried together beginning May 5, said Domenico Martelli, a lawyer for four of the Moroccans.

Official wants soldiers to leave

PESHAWAR, Pakistan -- The chief minister in charge of Pakistan's border regions insisted Thursday that there are no al-Qaida or Taliban terrorists in the area and that the U.S.-led coalition must wind down its war on terrorism.

"We don't have any al-Qaida or Taliban here," Akram Durrani, who heads a conservative Islamic coalition that won power in the North West Frontier Province, said in a rare interview with a foreign journalist. "Absolutely there is nothing here."

The U.S. military disagrees. A small number of U.S. Special Forces are working with Pakistani troops in the tribal regions on the border with Afghanistan, and FBI agents have been on raids with Pakistani forces in the frontier province.

Durrani wants the Americans to go. "We don't want any foreigners here."

Bin Laden could be in hiding

MOSCOW -- Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf further backed off his claim that Osama bin Laden was dead, saying the al-Qaida leader could have survived U.S. bombing and be hiding in the Afghan mountains near Pakistan.

But he said that the world's most wanted terrorist is definitely not in Pakistan and that al-Qaida is in disarray and unable to mount large-scale attacks.

Musharraf said he had originally believed that bin Laden had died after the U.S.-led operation in Afghanistan in the fall of 2001.

"But now there is some information showing that maybe he is alive," he said at a Moscow news conference. "So I will leave it at that. I can't be very sure whether he is dead or alive. But indeed there are indications that he is alive."

Note to pilot delays flight

WASHINGTON -- A cryptic note a passenger gave to a flight attendant led the pilot to return to the gate at Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport on Thursday.

ATA Flight 295 to Chicago's Midway Airport was taxiing toward the runway when a man passed the note -- written on a napkin -- which contained three words: "fast, neat, average."

Airline spokeswoman Angela Thomas said the man asked that the note be given to the pilot. But the pilot had no idea what it meant.

Airport police took the man into custody, but after several hours of questioning he was released. The man was not identified. The flight left one hour 15 minutes late, and arrived in Chicago without further incident.

According to Thomas, the man initially claimed to be an Air Force Academy cadet, and said the message on his note would have been understood by an Air Force pilot. The ATA pilot did not have military experience.

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