Taliban claim to kill hostage in Afghan standoff

KANDAHAR, Afghanistan - A purported Taliban spokesman claimed the hardline militia killed a second South Korean hostage Monday because the Afghan government failed to release imprisoned insurgents. Afghan officials said they hadn't recovered a body and couldn't confirm the claim.

The Al-Jazeera television network, meanwhile, showed footage that it said was seven female hostages in Afghanistan.

Militant spokesman Qari Yousef Ahmadi said senior Taliban leaders decided to kill the male captive because the government had not met Taliban demands to trade prisoners for the Christian volunteers, who were in their 12th day of captivity.

Iraqi parliament adjourns despite U.S. criticism

BAGHDAD - Iraq's parliament on Monday shrugged off U.S. criticism and adjourned for a month, as key lawmakers declared there was no point waiting any longer for the prime minister to deliver Washington-demanded benchmark legislation for their vote.

Speaker Mahmoud al-Mashhadani closed the final three-hour session without a quorum present and declared lawmakers would not reconvene until Sept. 4.

Tourists among those evacuated as blaze spreads

SANTA CRUZ DE TENERIFE, Canary Islands - A raging forest fire destroyed thousands of acres of woodland on Spain's Gran Canaria island and forced the evacuation Monday of more than 2,000 people, authorities said.

A forest ranger was arrested for allegedly starting the fire deliberately, authorities said.

Provincial government spokesman Roberto Moreno described the fire as the island's 'worst-ever ecological disaster.'

Inspectors visit Iranian reactor

TEHRAN, Iran - U.N. inspectors visited a nuclear reactor Monday being built in central Iran, a facility that has been off-limits since April, state media reported.

'The team visited the 40-megawatt research reactor in Arak,' the official Islamic Republic News Agency quoted an unnamed official as saying. 'The inspection took some 5 hours.'

The report did not provide additional details.

Experts from the U.N.'s nuclear watchdog have said access to the reactor is critical to their review of Tehran's overall nuclear activities.