George Habash, guerrilla leader, dies of heart attack

AMMAN, Jordan - George Habash, whose radical PLO faction gained notoriety after the simultaneous hijackings of four Western airliners in 1970 and the seizure of an Air France flight to Entebbe, Uganda, died Saturday in Jordan. He was 81.

The former guerrilla leader, whose rivalry with Yasser Arafat spurred him to start the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, died of a heart attack in Amman, said Leila Khaled, a longtime PFLP member.

Born to a Christian Arab family, Habash opposed Arab-Israeli peace talks. His group was the second-largest in the PLO after Fatah, the faction of Arafat and current Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas.

Official says son of Libyan leader had hand in Mosul violence

BAGHDAD - A son of Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi is behind a group of foreign and Iraqi fighters responsible for this week's devastating explosion in northern Iraq, a security chief for Sunni tribesmen who rose up against al-Qaida said Saturday.

At least 38 people were killed and 225 wounded last Wednesday when a huge blast destroyed about 50 buildings in a Mosul slum. The next day, a suicide bomber killed the provincial police chief and two other officers as they surveyed the blast site.

Col. Jubair Rashid Naief, who also is a police official in Anbar province, said those attacks were carried out by the Seifaddin Regiment, made up of about 150 foreign and Iraqi fighters who slipped into the country several months ago from Syria.

Gunmen kidnap American in Afghanistan

KANDAHAR, Afghanistan - Gunmen kidnapped a burqa-clad American aid worker and her driver in southern Afghanistan's largest city early Saturday, the latest in a series of kidnappings of foreigners in the troubled country.

Cyd Mizell, who worked in Kandahar for the Asian Rural Life Development Foundation, was snatched from a residential neighborhood as she was on her way to work. Jeff Palmer, the aid group's international director, said the group had not been contacted by the kidnappers and that he did not know their identity or demands.

Egypt riot police prevent Gazans from leaving Rafah

RAFAH, Egypt - In its first public criticism of Gaza's Hamas rulers, Egypt complained Saturday of 'provocations' during the Gaza-Egypt border crisis and said more than three dozen members of its security forces were hospitalized as a result.

The border, which was initially breached by Hamas militants, remained open for a fourth day, though Egyptian security forces blocked Gazans from driving beyond the border town of Rafah itself.

Egyptian border guards were now authorized to return fire if attacked, said a security official speaking on customary condition of anonymity on the Egyptian side of Rafah. Over the past two days, 38 Egyptian security forces have been wounded - some seriously - after Palestinians hurled stones and shot at them at the border, Egypt's foreign minister said.

Bush condemns bombing in Lebanon

WASHINGTON - President Bush on Saturday bemoaned the latest assassination of a Lebanese official and told Syria and Iran to stop meddling in its neighbor's affairs. Investigators tried to determine if the killing was tied to attacks against anti-Syrian politicians.

Iran, which supports the Syrian-based opposition in a power struggle with Beirut's Western-allied government, came under criticism along with Syria for working to undermine Lebanese institutions.

'We demand that Syria, Iran and their allies end their interference in and obstruction of Lebanons political process,' the president said in a statement.

Pakistan dispels nuclear concerns

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan - Pakistan's nuclear weapons are safe from Taliban and al-Qaida militants because of the military's stringent security system and a political climate that precludes a takeover by religious extremists, a top official said Saturday.

Seeking to dispel international concerns amid increased violence, Khalid Kidwai, head of the Strategic Plans Division which handles Pakistan's nuclear arsenal, said Pakistan uses 10,000 soldiers to keep the weapons safe and has received up to $10 million in U.S. assistance to that end.

'There's no conceivable scenario, political or violent, in which Pakistan will fall to extremists of the al-Qaida or Taliban type,' Kidwai told foreign journalists at a briefing.

- From wire reports