Afghan civilians killed in air strike

KABUL, Afghanistan - An American airstrike in Afghanistan's rugged eastern mountains killed 17 civilians, including women and children, an Afghan official said Monday. The U.S. military confirmed civilian deaths but said the numbers were unclear.

An initial airstrike destroyed a house, and as villagers gathered to look at the damage, a U.S. warplane dropped a second bomb on the same target, Kunar provincial Gov. Asadullah Wafa said.

The airstrike came in the same province where a U.S. transport helicopter was downed last week in the deadliest single blow to American forces since they ousted the Taliban in 2001.

Infamous female sex killer released from Canadian jail

MONTREAL - Canada's most notorious female inmate was secretly spirited from prison on Monday after serving 12 years for the rapes, torture and murders of three teenage girls, including her younger sister.

Correctional Service Canada said Karla Homolka was no longer in its jurisdiction, but she was nowhere to be seen by the horde of media lining the lone road from the prison in rural Ste-Anne-des-Plaines, about 20 miles northwest of Montreal.

Homolka became the symbol of evil in Canada in 1993 when she was convicted of manslaughter for her role in the kidnappings, rapes, sexual torture and murders of Ontario teenagers Kristen French and Leslie Mahaffy. She also was convicted in the 1990 death of her 15-year-old sister, Tammy, who died choking on her own vomit on Christmas Eve after Homolka held a drug-soaked cloth over her mouth while both she and her husband raped her.

Italy denies report it was informed of CIA kidnapping

ROME - The Italian government denied new media reports Monday that it was informed before the alleged CIA kidnapping of a radical Egyptian cleric in 2003.

Rome newspaper La Repubblica quoted the former head of the CIA's Osama bin Laden unit, Michael Scheuer, as saying the CIA received authorization from Italy's secret service, SISMI, before the operation.

Scheuer was quoted as saying the authorization came from SISMI's director, Nicolo Pollari, and from one of his deputies.

Bomber detectors won't reduce deaths, study says

WASHINGTON - Setting up arrays of sensors in the hope of detecting suicide bombers in advance is unlikely to save many lives, according to a new study.

''Pedestrian suicide bombings might be better prevented by investing in intelligence leading to actions that prevent terrorists from prosecuting such attacks,'' Edward H. Kaplan and Moshe Kress report in today's issue of Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

The detectors currently available are expensive and not sufficiently reliable for widespread use, they said.

If the technology were affordable and reliable it might be useful in preventing attacks at such known targets as airports, the entrances to government buildings or sporting events, they said.

Israeli president warns of possible assassination

JERUSALEM - Israel's president warned Monday that Jewish extremists opposed to this summer's pullout from Gaza and part of the West Bank could assassinate Prime Minister Ariel Sharon.

President Moshe Katsav issued the warning as settler leaders tried to rein in extremists by issuing a code of conduct for opposing the pullout, and a court extended the detention of a Jewish youth filmed in Gaza stoning a Palestinian who was already unconscious.

As the mid-August start date for the evacuation nears, opponents - many driven by religious beliefs - are readying more extreme measures to try to stop it. Protesters, most of them Orthodox Jewish teenagers, have blocked main highways several times. Police say they foiled plots to sabotage water and electricity supplies.

Security forces kill top al-Qaida militant

RIYADH, Saudi Arabia - Saudi anti-terror forces killed the head of al-Qaida in Saudi Arabia in a 90-minute gunbattle after surrounding his hideout, but experts warn the kingdom still faces a surge in attacks despite its two-year crackdown on militants.

The shootout Sunday in the eastern Rawdah district, an upscale neighborhood in the capital Riyadh, was the latest blow dealt to Osama bin Laden's group in Saudi Arabia, whose leaders have either been killed or captured since authorities launched an unrelenting offensive against it in 2003.

Moroccan Younis Mohammed Ibrahim al-Hayari was killed in a dawn raid by security forces in an area where suspected militants were hiding, an Interior Ministry official was quoted by Saudi Press Agency as saying. Three other suspects were arrested.

SPA, quoting an unidentified official, reported that al-Hayari headed al-Qaida in the kingdom.

- From wire reports