Caribbean islands prepare as Omar nears

CHARLOTTE AMALIE, U.S. Virgin Islands - Schools, businesses and a large oil refinery closed Wednesday on several Caribbean islands in the path of Hurricane Omar, which could rev up to a Category 2 storm before coming ashore overnight.

U.S. Virgin Islands Gov. John deJongh closed all public schools, told government employees to head home at midmorning and imposed a

6 p.m. curfew on the islands of St. Thomas and St. John.

To the west in Puerto Rico, government offices closed early, adding to traffic jams as islanders headed home or sought emergency provisions. Omar should pass near Puerto Rico today.

US: Soldiers kill No. 2 leader of al-Qaida in Iraq

BAGHDAD - American soldiers killed the alleged No. 2 leader of al-Qaida in Iraq, a Moroccan who trained in Afghanistan, recruited foreign fighters and ran operations in northern Iraq where Sunni insurgents remain a potent threat, the U.S. military said Wednesday.

The man, who the military said was known as Abu Qaswarah, died Oct. 5 during a raid on a building in the northern city of Mosul that served as a major 'command and control location' for the region. Four other insurgents were killed in the operation, the U.S. said.

Fighting at Cambodia-Thai border kills 2

PHNOM PENH, Cambodia - A gunfight broke out Wednesday between Thai and Cambodian troops at a disputed border zone near a landmark 11th-century temple, killing two Cambodian soldiers and escalating a conflict that has raised fears of war.

The two neighboring countries almost immediately scrambled to reassure each other and the world that they wanted a peaceful resolution.

Austrian stables take in women

VIENNA, Austria - It's no longer a man's world in Austria's most sophisticated stables.

The country's prestigious Spanish Riding School, for centuries a bastion of masculinity, is modernizing: On Wednesday, the 436-year-old institution officially presented its first female riders-in-training.

The school, which was founded in 1572 and is part of Vienna's former imperial Hofburg Palace complex, is known for elegant white Lipizzaner stallions.