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Firefighters cancel strike in Britain

Compiled from Times wires

© St. Petersburg Times, published March 19, 2003

LONDON -- With Britain braced for war with Iraq, British firefighters on Tuesday canceled a planned strike that would have forced thousands of soldiers to replace them.

The union's 55,000 members, who first demanded a 40 percent raise, have staged five strikes since last year. Their places were taken by soldiers using outmoded equipment.

Britain has ordered 40,000 troops to the Persian Gulf, and some fear a strike now could stretch the armed forces beyond their breaking point.

Ex-Iraqi general's disappearance a mystery

PARIS -- Danish police on Tuesday were investigating the disappearance of former Iraqi Gen. Nizar Khazraji, a top military defector who has aspired to a leading role in toppling Saddam Hussein even though he faces prosecution for war crimes in Denmark.

Khazraji vanished after stepping outside his home to smoke a cigarette Monday morning, according to his family. A hero of the Iran-Iraq war and a former military chief of staff, he has been under police supervision and forbidden to leave Denmark since his indictment in November in war crimes against Kurds in the mid 1980s.

The general's son said he fears Iraqi spies abducted Khazraji. Danish authorities said they were hunting for Khazraji but did not consider the case a kidnapping.

Mustafa Alani of the Royal United Services Institutes in London, which are affiliated with Britain's Defense Ministry, asserted that Khazraji had traveled clandestinely to the Persian Gulf with the help of U.S. agents to participate in a propaganda campaign aimed at the Iraqi military.

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