Fischer Loses Bid

To Halt Deportation

TOKYO -- A Japanese court dismissed a request to halt deportation proceedings against fugitive chess legend Bobby Fischer, his attorneys said Friday.

Fischer, wanted in the United States on charges of violating international sanctions against the former Yugoslavia, was detained in Japan last month when trying to travel on an invalid U.S. passport. He has been battling deportation to the United States.

The Tokyo District Court rejected the request to have Japanese immigration officials halt procedures to deport him, his legal team said in a faxed statement.

Fischer's attorneys immediately filed an appeal with the Tokyo High Court, calling the decision unjust and unreasonable.

Since being detained July 13, Fischer has fought deportation by attempting to seek political asylum in Japan or another country. He has also tried to renounce his U.S. citizenship.

ASIA

* TOKYO -- Alleged U.S. Army deserter Charles Robert Jenkins -- accused of defecting to North Korea in 1965 and currently in Japan -- is ready to meet U.S. military officials to discuss a plea bargain, a media report said, citing unidentified government sources.

Jenkins indicated to Japanese government officials that he intended to seek a plea bargain following talks with an independent legal counsel from the Army this month, the Kyodo News Service reported.

Jenkins, 64, is accused of deserting his Army platoon in South Korea in 1965 and defecting to the Communist North.

* KANDAHAR, Afghanistan -- A series of bombs went off at a U.N. voter registration office in western Afghanistan, injuring six policemen, setting vehicles ablaze and shattering windows, police and the United Nations said.

The bombing drew calls from a union of U.N. employees that the world body consider withdrawing staffers from the embattled nation.

The Staff Union requested a security review and revamped safety measures for Afghanistan-based U.N. employees, saying "the safety of staff remains the highest priority."

* BANGKOK, Thailand -- Police defused a time bomb and found the dead body of a British man in Thailand's south, a Muslim-majority region racked by months of violence.

* KATMANDU, Nepal -- Suspected Maoist guerrillas set off two bombs in and around Nepal's capital, wounding two people as the city remained cut off for a third day by a rebel-imposed blockade.

EUROPE

* MADRID -- Spanish police arrested an Algerian and a Syrian suspected of playing a role in the March 11 train bombings in Madrid, the latest of more than 50 arrests linked to the attacks that killed 191 people.

* DUESSELDORF, Germany -- A Spanair plane bound for Palma de Mallorca caught fire on a runway in western Germany on Friday, leaving 17 people slightly injured.

All 168 passengers and six crew members aboard the McDonnell Douglas MD-83 plane exited by the escape chutes.

AFRICA

* HARARE, Zimbabwe -- Zimbabwe said it could not extradite 70 suspected mercenaries accused of plotting to overthrow the government of Equatorial Guinea for legal reasons, as prosecutors wrapped up the case against them.

* KINSHASA, Congo -- Former rebels and loyalists now in Congo's transitional government headed to South Africa for talks on reviving the country's shaky peace process, party officials and diplomats said.

THE AMERICAS

* BOGOTA, Colombia -- Colombia's second-largest group of Marxist rebels showed more signs of war weariness with a declaration that they wanted to find ways to reduce the suffering caused by their 40-year struggle while they sought a political exit to the fighting.

Separately, the government announced that 5,000 rebels and paramilitary combatants had deserted their organizations to seek access to government demobilization programs.

* SANTO DOMINGO, Dominican Republic -- Less than a week after his inauguration, President Leonel Fernandez has given top posts to four former officials charged with involvement in the disappearance of millions of dollars in public funds in the late 1990s.

* CARACAS, Venezuela -- Venezuela's opposition threatened to boycott regional elections following President Hugo Chavez's referendum win, which they said was fraudulent but which international observers called legitimate.

-- From News Services