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World in brief

Korean troops trade gunfire at border

Compiled from Times wires
© St. Petersburg Times
published July 17, 2003

SEOUL, South Korea - South and North Korean soldiers briefly exchanged gunfire along their border on Thursday, but the South said it suffered no casualties.

It was not immediately known whether North Korean troops were injured or killed.

North Korean soldiers fired four rounds at 6:10 a.m., and South Korean soldiers fired 17 rounds in response one minute later, said Maj. Lee of the South Korean Joint Chiefs of Staff. The incident happened in the Demilitarized Zone near the South Korean town of Yonchon, said Lee, who did not give his first name.

Abbas agrees to visit Bush in Washington this month

JERUSALEM - The Palestinian prime minister, Mahmoud Abbas, plans to make his first visit to President Bush in Washington on July 25, to press for Israeli concessions to advance the new Middle East peace plan, Palestinian officials said Wednesday.

Abbas would be the highest-ranking Palestinian official ever to visit at the White House with Bush, who refused to meet Yasser Arafat even before severing official ties to him in June 2002.

Four killed as U.S. Navy helicopter crashes in Italy

WASHINGTON - Four crew members were killed Wednesday in a fiery crash of a U.S. Navy helicopter in Italy, a Pentagon spokesman said.

Lt. Dan Hetlage said the MH-53E Sea Dragon helicopter crashed Wednesday evening about 10 miles southwest of the Navy base at Sigonella on the island of Sicily.

The helicopter had crashed a short time after taking off from the base at Sigonella, outside Catania in eastern Sicily, fire officials said.

Troops depose leaders of oil-rich island nation

SAO TOME, Sao Tome and Principe - Troops deposed the government in this island nation off West Africa on Wednesday, a revolt that could change control of the impoverished country's new oil wealth.

The rebellious soldiers said they would install a military junta to govern Sao Tome and Principe, one of Africa's smallest and poorest countries.

The United States imported 25.1-million barrels of oil - 8.5 percent of its total crude imports - from the Gulf of Guinea in April, according to the most recent statistics compiled by the U.S. Energy Information Administration.

British girl safe at home; U.S. Marine under arrest

LONDON - A 12-year-old British girl flew home to her parents Wednesday as the former U.S. Marine she ran off with was arrested in Germany on charges of abduction.

Toby Studabaker, 31, and the girl he met in an Internet chat room had evaded police since they left Britain together Saturday on a flight to Paris.

Police said the pair had separated by Wednesday afternoon, when Studabaker was arrested for alleged abduction under an international warrant in Frankfurt.

U.N. court convicts four rebels for war atrocities

PRISTINA, Serbia-Montenegro - A court convicted four senior ethnic Albanian rebels and sentenced them to prison Wednesday for atrocities committed during the 1998-1999 war against Yugoslav forces in Kosovo.

It was the first time the United Nations-administered court had convicted anyone of war crimes from the rebel side in the Kosovo conflict.

Red Cross: Hotspots overshadow other crises

GENEVA - Too many humanitarian crises are forgotten as world attention focuses on headline-grabbing emergencies in Iraq, Afghanistan and other hotspots, the Red Cross said Thursday.

The World Disasters Report, issued annually by the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, said 24,500 people died in natural and manmade catastrophes, ranging from earthquakes to plane crashes, in 2002.

Amid these deaths, the 239-page study said, international aid made a general shift toward "high profile aid efforts in politically strategic conflicts," mostly linked to the U.S.-led war on terror. Aid to Afghanistan, for example, tripled after the Sept. 11 attacks even though the humanitarian needs were unchanged. Meanwhile, suffering countries like Angola, Somalia and Congo have been all but ignored, the report said.

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