Israeli Airstrike Kills

Palestinian Militant

JERUSALEM -- Missiles fired from an Israeli helicopter killed a senior Palestinian militant and his driver in the southern Gaza Strip on Thursday, and three other Palestinians were killed in separate incidents in the West Bank and Gaza, according to an Israeli army spokeswoman and Palestinian hospital and security sources.

The 2 p.m. missile strike killed Amr Abu Setta, about 30, who was head of the Ahmed Abu Rish Brigades, a radical offshoot of Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat's Fatah political movement. The Israeli army spokeswoman said Setta "was planning a major terrorist attack in the Gaza Strip and was involved in numerous attacks in Gaza since 1990," including incidents in which Israeli soldiers and civilians were killed.

The Abu Rish Brigades was one of the groups behind a wave of kidnappings in the Gaza Strip two weeks ago that prompted Palestinian Prime Minister Ahmed Qureia to resign, complaining about lawlessness in Gaza. He withdrew his resignation after Arafat agreed to give him more authority over some security forces.

In an earlier incident in the Gaza Strip, two Palestinian militants -- one from the al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades and the other from Islamic Jihad -- were killed when an explosive device they were carrying exploded, apparently accidentally, as they were approaching the Jewish settlement of Netser Hanzient, according to Israeli and Palestinian security sources.

In the West Bank, a large contingent of Israeli troops in rugged four-wheel-drive vehicles backed by AH-64 Apache helicopters entered Ilar, a village about 25 miles northeast of Tel Aviv, in an operation aimed at arresting the local commander of Islamic Jihad, according to Israeli and Palestinian security sources. The commander, Zaher Ashqar, 28, was killed, Islamic Jihad said on its Web site.

-- John Ward Anderson


* BRUSSELS -- A former Rwandan banker accused of participating in the country's 1994 genocide is being held in Brussels, prosecutors said.

Ephrem Nkezabera, 52, was arrested June 21 in Brussels and is being held on charges of genocide and crimes against humanity, said Lieve Pellens, a spokeswoman for the federal prosecutor's office. Pellens declined to release any details of the case, citing its "delicate nature."

* PARIS -- France welcomed Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's praise for its efforts to curb anti-Semitism, signaling an end to a row over his earlier criticism of anti-Jewish feeling in France. Relations between France and Israel deteriorated after Sharon's appeal on July 18 to French Jews to emigrate immediately to Israel to escape what he termed "the wildest anti-Semitism."

* THE HAGUE -- Prosecutors at the world's war crimes court launched an investigation into alleged atrocities in northern Uganda, where the government has been fighting an 18-year rebel insurgency.

It is the second investigation by the International Criminal Court; last month, prosecutors said they would investigate alleged crimes in Congo.

* MADRID -- Leaders of Spain's new Socialist government said there was never any evidence that Basque separatists were behind the Madrid train bombings and accused the former government of withholding information of an Islamic link.

Islamic militants with possible links to al Qaeda are blamed for planting 10 backpack bombs on four commuter trains in the March 11 attack that killed 191 people and wounded more than 1,600.


* ACCRA, Ghana -- Africa's most influential leaders began talks in Ghana's capital to revive a moribund peace process in Ivory Coast, where civil war has split the West African economic powerhouse in two.

The conflict mushroomed out of a coup attempt in September 2002. Although a peace deal was struck in January 2003, and hostilities were declared over in July that year, the world's largest cocoa grower remains mired in an uneasy stalemate.


* HAVANA -- American director Michael Moore's documentary "Fahrenheit 9/11" was shown on prime-time Cuban state-run television after playing to packed cinemas for a week. In a country with a deep-seated distrust of U.S. governments, the film has generated widespread public interest and added to a recent barrage of official criticism of President Bush.

* PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti -- Soldiers from Haiti's disbanded army who helped oust President Jean-Bertrand Aristide in February threatened Thursday to do the same to the new government unless it gave them 10 years of back pay. Setting an Aug. 10 deadline for the payment, a spokesman for the soldiers said the interim government had assured the soldiers the army would be reinstituted but had not kept its word.

-- From News Services