EUROPE

Suspect Said to Confess in Fortuyn Killing

AMSTERDAM -- An animal rights activist charged with murdering populist Dutch politician Pim Fortuyn has confessed to the crime, breaking a seven-month silence and saying he thought Fortuyn was a danger to society, prosecutors said yesterday.

In his first statement since his arrest minutes after the shooting last May, Volkert van der Graaf, 33, said he had been concerned Fortuyn was gaining too much power and posed a threat to "vulnerable members of society," the Amsterdam district attorney's office said.

He also said he was worried about Fortuyn's "prejudiced political ideas" and their possible polarizing effect in the Netherlands, the prosecutors' statement said.

Van der Graaf, the only suspect in the case, said that he had acted alone and that no one else knew he intended to kill Fortuyn, who was then a leading candidate in national elections and a potential prime minister. Van der Graaf faces possible life imprisonment, a sentence rarely handed down in the Netherlands.

Associated Press

British Troops Fill In for Firefighters

LONDON -- Soldiers manned antiquated fire trucks, and firefighters stood on picket lines as politicians and union leaders traded blame for a national walkout by Britain's fire service.

Troops and their outdated military engines were called to several serious blazes overnight, filling in for 50,000 firefighters who walked off the job Friday morning, demanding a hefty pay increase.

A 27-year-old man died in a house fire in Eccles, south of London -- the first fatality in a fire since the strike began. A military team at the scene was joined by striking firefighters who left their picket line to battle the blaze.

The firefighters began an eight-day strike to back their demand for a hefty pay increase after last-minute talks broke down.

Associated Press

ASIA

Protesters Demand U.S. Military Exit

SEOUL -- About 700 activists burned an American flag and demanded the U.S. military leave South Korea after two American soldiers were acquitted of negligent homicide charges in a traffic accident that killed two Korean girls.

Shoving matches erupted when riot police blocked the demonstrators from marching on the nearby U.S. military base in Seoul. No injuries or arrests were reported.

In two separate U.S. military trials earlier this week, Sgt. Fernando Nino and Sgt. Mark Walker were acquitted of negligent homicide charges in the deaths of two 13-year-old school girls that their armored vehicle hit on June 13.

Associated Press

FOR THE RECORD

At least 33 people were killed and six injured Sunday when a bus plunged into a ravine in the Philippines after its driver apparently fell asleep at the wheel, officials said. . . . Chechen warlord Shamil Basayev, who says he was behind last month's mass hostage-taking in Moscow, warned that his group would launch new strikes in Russia if it did not pull its troops out of Chechnya. . . . Khaled Shimmiri, a Kuwaiti policeman who is accused of shooting two U.S. soldiers, was extradited from Saudi Arabia, where he fled after the attack, the Kuwaiti Interior Ministry said.