China Detains Activist For Korean Refugees

TOKYO -- Chinese authorities have detained a Japanese activist who helped create an organization that assists North Korean refugees, Japan's Foreign Ministry said.

Hiroshi Kato, who had been missing for six days, was detained along with his interpreter for allegedly violating Chinese immigration laws, said Naoko Murasaki, a Japanese official.

She said Kato, a co-founder of Life Funds for North Korean Refugees, was expected to be expelled from China today.

Public TV broadcaster NHK reported that Kato was accused of planning and helping to carry out the asylum bids of North Koreans who took refuge in foreign embassies in Beijing.

The interpreter, Masahiro Mizuta, a Japanese student who attends a Chinese university, would be released and allowed to continue his studies, the network said.

Kato -- who was in China providing food, medicine and clothes to refugees -- disappeared on Oct. 30 after checking out of his hotel in Dalian, in northeastern China.

Associated Press

Al Qaeda Arms Buyers Held in Hong Kong

HONG KONG -- Three men have been arrested in Hong Kong over an alleged attempt to buy four Stinger anti-aircraft missiles for al Qaeda from undercover FBI agents, the Hong Kong government said.

It was the first time that Hong Kong authorities had reported any al Qaeda-linked activities in the Chinese territory.

The case is likely to revive concern that Hong Kong could be used as a center for the clandestine transfer of arms and as a transit point for illegal immigrants.


THE Middle East

Palestinians Plead Guilty in Bombings

JERUSALEM -- Four Palestinian residents of East Jerusalem pleaded guilty to direct involvement in a series of bombings in the city, including an attack that killed five Americans at Hebrew University, court officials said.

Prosecutors said the Palestinians belonged to a cell that orchestrated attacks, including a suicide bombing in a Jerusalem cafe in March that killed 11 Israelis.

One of the Palestinians, house painter Mohammed Oudeh, admitted to planting the bomb in the Hebrew University cafeteria last summer that killed nine people, including the Americans. The Palestinians were charged with attacks that took a total of 35 lives.

Associated Press


Serbia's parliament voted to scrap a rule, which had invalidated the October victory of Vojislav Kostunica over Zoran Djindjic, that 50 percent of registered voters must turn out for a candidate to be elected president. . . . U.S. Homeland Security chief Tom Ridge, on a week-long tour of Europe, pressed for tighter security measures in European harbors to help prevent terrorists from smuggling weapons of mass destruction into the United States. . . . Indonesian authorities detained two possible suspects in the Bali bombings that killed nearly 200 people last month, the national police chief said. . . . Italian Premier Silvio Berlusconi was acquitted because the 41/2-year statute of limitations had run out on charges of false bookkeeping in the 1992 transfer of a soccer player to the team he owns, one of his lawyers said. . . . An Air France Concorde had engine trouble during a flight from New York to Paris Monday, causing the jet to lose 27,000 feet in altitude, the airline and passengers said. None of the 67 passengers was injured.