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World in brief

N. Korea may fire 2nd missile

Compiled from Times wires

© St. Petersburg Times, published March 8, 2003

WASHINGTON -- North Korea might be preparing to test its second missile in just two weeks, Pentagon officials said Friday, citing a warning by the nation's leadership for ships to stay out of one area of the Sea of Japan between today and Tuesday.

North Korea's notice to mariners is almost identical to one announced before what the United States said was a test of a land-to-ship missile late last month, said Lt. Cmdr. Jeff Davis, a U.S. Defense Department spokesman. That test-firing was the first in three years.

While test-firings of short-range missiles aren't in violation of international agreements, they are "not helpful given the increased level of tensions that North Korea has caused," Davis said.

INTERCEPTION CALLED HOSTAGE TRY: The North Korean fighter jets that intercepted an unarmed American spy plane over the Sea of Japan last weekend were trying to force the aircraft to land in North Korea and take its crew hostage, the New York Times reported, quoting an unnamed senior defense official.

One of the four North Korean MiGs came within 50 feet of the Air Force RC-135S Cobra Ball aircraft, and the pilot made internationally recognized hand signals to the American flight crew to follow him, presumably back to his home base, the official said. The American crew members ignored the gestures and aborted their mission.

TROOP DEPARTURE OPPOSED: Hints by Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld that some American military units should leave South Korea are provoking a sudden new appreciation of the U.S. military presence in South Korea.

Within hours of Rumsfeld's musings that American soldiers should be shifted out of North Korean artillery range, South Korea's new prime minister, Goh Kun, hurried to a meeting with U.S. Ambassador Thomas Hubbard and said, "The role of the U.S. troops as a trip wire must be maintained."

Bosnian Serbs fined for 1995 massacre

BELGRADE, Serbia-Montenegro -- A panel of Bosnian and international judges on Friday ordered Bosnia's Serb Republic to pay more than $2-million in compensation for the massacre of 7,500 Muslims at Srebrenica in 1995.

The money will be spent to build a memorial at the graveyard where families of the victims plan to bury their relatives' remains when they are finally identified. The first funerals will be held at the site, just outside Srebrenica, at the end of this month -- almost eight years after the massacre, the worst atrocity in Europe since World War II.

Elsewhere . . .

WARNING TO TRAVELERS: The State Department urged Americans traveling to or residing in the Philippines to exercise great caution and maintain heightened security awareness. It based the warning on a number of security-related incidents and the possibility of terrorism, kidnappings and other violence or criminal activity.

MAFIA ARREST: Italian police raided a house in Palermo, Sicily, and captured a top Mafia boss, an arrest officials described Friday as a major blow to organized crime. Salvatore Rinella, 49, was arrested Thursday night; he was not armed and did not resist arrest.

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