U.N. asks for $80M to assist Niger

GARIN GOUBLI, Niger - The United Nations appealed Friday for $80 million to fight a food crisis threatening the lives of hundreds of thousands in this impoverished West African nation.

The appeal was made at Garin Goubli village, 20 miles south of the eastern town of Maradi, during a visit by Canadian International Cooperation Minister Ailleen Carroll and UNICEF Deputy Executive Secretary Rima Salah.

In the past week, three U.N. agencies - the World Food Program, UNICEF and the Food and Agriculture Organization - made appeals totaling $75 million for Niger. The U.N. appeal apparently encompassed the earlier calls.

U.S. strikes against Iraqi insurgents

BAGHDAD, Iraq - U.S. Marines and Iraqi troops pounded insurgents with bombs and tank cannons Friday during a major offensive along a stretch of the Euphrates River valley where 22 Marines were killed this week.

About 800 U.S. Marines and 180 Iraqi soldiers moved into Haqlaniyah, one of a cluster of western towns in Anbar province around the Haditha Dam that is believed to be a stronghold of Iraqi insurgents and foreign fighters.

Heavy Abrams tanks battled insurgents armed with rifles and rocket-propelled grenades, while U.S. jets destroyed at least four buildings - two of which were found booby-trapped with explosives, a U.S. military statement said.

EU offers conditions for support to Iran

LONDON - European diplomats on Friday sought to entice Iran into a binding commitment not to build atomic arms by offering to provide fuel and other long-term support to help Iranians generate electricity with nuclear energy.

The Bush administration backed the offer, which came as a diplomatic effort to persuade North Korea into giving up its atomic weapons program stalled.

The proposal to Iran came from Britain, France and Germany, which are representing the European Union. They also offered greater economic, political and security cooperation if the Tehran government agrees to the plan.

Investigators: Jet landed unusually far down runway

TORONTO - The Air France jet that skidded off the runway and burst into flames earlier this week landed farther down the runway than it should have, but it is too soon to know if that was the reason for the crash, aviation investigators said Friday.

All 309 people on board escaped with their lives after Flight 358 from Paris crashed at Toronto's Lester B. Pearson International Airport Tuesday afternoon. The flight data and voice recorders were recovered the next day.

Blair proposes strict anti-terror measures

LONDON - Prime Minister Tony Blair proposed strict anti-terror measures Friday that would allow Britain to expel foreigners who preach hatred, close extremist mosques and bar entry to Muslim radicals. ''The rules of the game are changing," he said.

The proposals, which also target extremist Web sites and bookshops, are aimed at excluding radical Islamic clerics accused of whipping up hatred and violence among vulnerable Muslim men.

Man linked to militant group to serve 12 years

MIAMI - A man linked to an Islamic extremist group involved in a 1990 coup attempt in Trinidad and Tobago has been sentenced to more than 12 years in U.S. prison for trying to smuggle machine guns and silencers from Florida to the Caribbean islands.

U.S. District Judge William P. Dimitrouleas imposed the sentence Thursday on Clive Lancelot Small, 70, who was convicted in May of attempting to ship 60 AK-47s and 10 MAC-10 machine guns with silencers concealed in furniture containers from Fort Lauderdale to Trinidad in 2001.

Arab-Israeli town mourns victims of extremist shooting

SHFARAM, Israel - Thousands joined funeral processions Friday for four residents of this Arab-Israeli town killed by a Jewish soldier opposed to the Gaza Strip pullout, and Prime Minister Ariel Sharon sought to calm the nation's angry Arab minority.

Israeli officials struggled to determine how they failed to prevent the attack by 19-year-old Eden Natan-Zada, who recently deserted the army with his weapon to protest the Gaza withdrawal and had been identified as a security threat.

Sharon condemned the attack as ''a despicable act by a bloodthirsty terrorist,'' and Israeli newspapers referred to the shooting as an act of terrorism - language usually reserved for Palestinian suicide bombers.

- From wire reports