ASIA

India Investigates Deadly Virus

LUCKNOW, India -- Health experts are investigating a mysterious virus that has killed nearly 100 children and sickened hundreds of others over the past two months in India's northern state of Uttar Pradesh, officials said yesterday.

The children have died in hospitals in small towns after what doctors and district officials said was high fever brought on by mosquito bites. Two teams of doctors and public health specialists from the federal and state governments are investigating the outbreak, said an administrator in Saharanpur.

Doctors were divided over the identity of the virus, which caused patients to show symptoms similar to those of Japanese encephalitis, a disease that is spread from pigs to humans through mosquito bites.

Associated Press

Rebel Leader Held in Philippines

ZAMBOANGA, Philippines -- Soldiers arrested a key commander of the Abu Sayyaf Muslim insurgent group in the southern Philippines, the military said.

Hakimin Imran was arrested at a military checkpoint on Basilan island Wednesday, but his arrest was not immediately disclosed because he was being interrogated, said Lt. Col. Daniel Lucero, a spokesman for the armed forces.

"He sang a lot," Lucero said of the interrogation. "Hopefully we will get more [Abu Sayyaf] members based on his revelations."

Imran is accused of taking part in the kidnapping of more than 50 teachers and students in March 2000. He also allegedly provided security to an Abu Sayyaf band that raided a Philippine resort and seized 20 people, including three American tourists.

Associated Press

Koreans Protest Acquittal of GIs

SEOUL -- At least 3,000 students and activists marched and burned an American flag to protest the acquittal of two U.S. soldiers in a traffic accident that killed two Korean girls.

Scuffles broke out when protesters marched on the U.S. Embassy, which was blocked by thousands of riot police. The protesters burned an effigy of President Bush.

In separate military trials this month, Sgt. Fernando Nino and Sgt. Mark Walker were acquitted of negligent homicide in the deaths of the 13-year-old girls on June 13. The soldiers' armored vehicle was on a training mission when it struck and killed the girls.

Associated Press

Violence in Kashmir Kills 10

SRINAGAR, India -- A surge of violence in Indian-controlled Kashmir left 10 people dead and more than 20 injured.

Gunmen fired at a crowd outside a mosque in Srinagar, killing a police informer and a bystander. Suspected militants killed another police informer in Lolab, 50 miles northwest of Srinagar, and Indian troops killed seven suspected militants in Sopore.

A bomb exploded on a busy street in Srinagar, injuring nine people. Police said it was intended for a police van but exploded before the van arrived. Suspected rebels later shot and wounded two policemen on patrol in the area. A grenade explosion also allegedly aimed at a police vehicle wounded 13 civilians in Avantipora.

Associated Press

EUROPE

Reports of IRA Gestures Denied

BELFAST -- Sinn Fein leaders denied British news reports that the Irish Republican Army was about to make peace gestures designed to revive Northern Ireland's Catholic-Protestant administration.

Reports in the Guardian and the Times said the IRA planned to declare that its "war" against Britain was over, to get rid of its arms dumps and to cease aggressive activities.

Britain stripped power from Northern Ireland's four-party administration on Oct. 14, after police uncovered evidence of a long-running IRA spying operation inside government circles that allegedly involved a senior Sinn Fein official. Britain's intervention prevented resignations by Protestants and kept open the possibility of reviving the coalition after negotiations.

Associated Press

British Firefighters Suspend Strike

LONDON -- Striking British firefighters returned to their station houses but stressed they were back only temporarily.

With their union and Prime Minister Tony Blair's government still far from agreement, the 50,000 firefighters said they would walk out for another eight days starting Wednesday. If there is still no deal on Dec. 16, they plan a third eight-day strike.

Associated Press