ASIA

Pakistan Arrests

Al Qaeda Suspects

KARACHI, Pakistan -- Police recovered rifles, grenades, street maps and more than $30,000 in cash from a house used by two al Qaeda suspects, officials said yesterday.

The identities of the men, who were captured early Thursday in a raid by police and FBI agents, have not been confirmed, but they claimed to be Abu Hamza of Yemen and Abu Umar of Egypt, police said. The wife of the man identifying himself as Abu Umar and their three children also were detained, police said.

Police said they also recovered a satellite telephone, a laptop computer and several suspicious documents, as well as literature calling for a holy war and maps of the Pakistani cities of Karachi, Hyderabad and Lahore. Most of the cash was U.S. currency.

Seven other people were arrested but later released. They were all family members of Sabiha Shahid, a leading member of the conservative religious party Jamaat-e-Islami, who lived on the first floor of the house.

FBI agents are trying to match the pictures and fingerprints of the two suspects with known members of Osama bin Laden's al Qaeda terrorist network. Authorities said the two appear to have entered Pakistan from Afghanistan last year.

A spokesman for the Interior Ministry, Iftikhar Ahmad, said the men were being interrogated by Pakistani security agencies and have not been turned over to U.S. officials.

Associated Press

Afghan Official Curbs Education of Women

HERAT, Afghanistan -- The governor of this western Afghan city, Ismail Khan, has placed further restrictions on women's education by banning women from being taught by men in privately run courses, officials said.

Classes are already segregated in Herat, but the new rules will also prevent women from attending classes in a building at the same time men are being taught.

"The present teaching method is in contradiction with our Islamic and cultural principles," Mohammad Deen Fahim, deputy head of Herat's educational department, told reporters.

The new rules are the latest in a series of restrictions on women introduced by Khan that have come under fire from international human rights groups.

Reuters

THE AMERICAS

Chavez Fires 700

At State Oil Company

CARACAS, Venezuela -- President Hugo Chavez fired 700 workers from the state oil monopoly, hoping to break a 40-day-old strike that has paralyzed the world's fifth-largest oil exporter.

At least 30,000 of the 40,000 workers at Petroleos de Venezuela are participating in a nationwide strike to demand early presidential elections. Chavez sacked 300 company managers earlier in the strike.

"The revolutionary government is standing firm," Chavez said.

The firings inflamed an already unstable situation. Chavez's opponents took to the streets, and a bank strike prompted authorities to suspend dollar auctions.

Associated Press

Fog Hampers Search For Plane in Peru

LIMA, Peru -- Rescue teams struggled on foot through rugged mountains searching for a missing Peruvian airliner with 46 people aboard as heavy fog and torrential rain kept helicopters from flying.

TANS Airline Flight 222 was three minutes from landing at the Chachapoyas airport when radio contact was lost with the plane Thursday. It was not raining when the plane disappeared, but low clouds covered the mountains near Chachapoyas, meteorologists said.

The missing state-owned airliner carried four crew members and 42 passengers, including eight children. TANS spokeswoman Carmen Mayorca said three foreigners were on the plane -- a Spaniard and a Belgian couple.

Associated Press