Army Considers Charging 7

With Misconduct in Kosovo

PRISTINA, Serbia and Montenegro -- The U.S. Army said Wednesday it was considering charges against seven soldiers in Kosovo after two civilians complained of mistreatment during a search operation.

A statement from the 21st Theater Support Command in Germany said an investigation had been completed into "alleged misconduct regarding their actions in the execution of a cordon and search operation" in the eastern village of Vrbovac in April.

"An investigation has determined that evidence collected is sufficient to conclude that misconduct of some sort might have occurred," spokesman Ralph Stinson said.

ASIA

* KABUL, Afghanistan -- Gunmen fired on a car carrying two Afghans working with a German relief agency in a former Taliban stronghold, killing them both, officials said. Mohammed Idrees Sadiq and Emal Abdul Samad, the two aid workers, were returning from a project run by the Malteser aid agency in Paktia province, 75 miles south of Kabul, when they were shot from a passing vehicle.

* KABUL, Afghanistan -- The country's powerful defense minister, Mohammed Fahim, backed a rival to President Hamid Karzai in elections scheduled for Oct. 9 and insisted he would not use violence to retain his post. Karzai last week dropped Fahim, a militia leader, from his ticket. The move split Karzai's cabinet and put NATO troops in Kabul on alert for any reaction from Fahim's militia, which he has refused to disband. Fahim said the move prompted him and other war veterans to back Education Minister Yonus Qanooni, one of 22 candidates running against the U.S.-backed incumbent.

EUROPE

* ATHENS -- A homemade bomb exploded near an electrical substation outside the Greek capital, causing damage but no injuries, officials said. Authorities said it was not clear whether the blast was linked to the Olympics, which are to open here next week amid unprecedented security.

THE AMERICAS

* TORONTO -- A bacterial infection common in hospitals and nursing homes has been blamed in the deaths of 100 patients in the past 18 months in a Quebec hospital, an expert said. Dr. Jacques Pepin said cases of Clostridium difficile at University Hospital in Sherbrooke have been increasing. Outbreaks have killed almost 90 patients at hospitals in Montreal and Calgary, Alberta.

THE MIDDLE EAST

* CAIRO -- Egypt asked U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan to intercede to help thousands of Palestinians stranded in Egypt since Israel shut the Rafah border crossing into the Gaza Strip on July 12.

The Egyptian Red Crescent Society previously had said it was caring for as many as 2,000 people at the border, some of them in tents. Officials have said many more Palestinians are stuck in Cairo or other Egyptian towns as they wait to return home.

* GAZA CITY -- Israeli tanks thrust deep into the northern Gaza Strip, triggering fighting near a major refugee camp that killed at least four Palestinians. Israeli army chief Shaul Mofaz said the army might widen operations in Gaza if it fails to stop Palestinians from firing rockets into Israel.

-- From News Services