U.S. Troops Kill Three Civilians

At Roadblock in Afghanistan

KABUL, Afghanistan -- U.S. soldiers fired on a pickup truck after it failed to stop at a roadblock in central Afghanistan, killing three people and critically wounding two others, the latest in a string of civilian deaths at the hands of American forces.

The shooting occurred Saturday evening on a road in Ghazni province when the pickup truck ran through a joint U.S.-Afghan military checkpoint, the U.S. military said in a statement. Soldiers searched the vehicle but did not find any weapons. The deaths came just two weeks after Afghan and American leaders met to discuss ways to improve relations between the military coalition and the people they are here to protect.

The U.S. military said the incident was under investigation.

ASIA

* DHAKA, Bangladesh -- An angry mob set fire to a passenger train and protesters clashed with police across Bangladesh, leaving dozens of people injured, as violence spread a day after a grenade attack on an opposition rally killed 19 people and wounded hundreds.

The Subarna Express train was attacked as it was entering a station in Bhairab, 50 miles east of Dhaka, the capital, said Mostafa-e-Jamail, a spokesman for state-run Bangladesh Railways.

About 20 people were injured, most of them passengers trying to flee. Meanwhile, protesters angry about Saturday's attack doused at least 15 train cars with gas and ignited them, police said. Police fired tear gas to disperse the crowd.

Clashes also were reported in six other towns in southern Bangladesh. About 30 people were injured in those clashes, police said.

* TOKYO -- The U.S. military said a tail rotor problem caused the crash of a CH-53D helicopter earlier this month near the Futenma Air Station on Japan's southern Okinawa island. The military announced that flights by similar aircraft would resume, prompting a protest from the Japanese government. The Aug. 13 accident reignited calls for the base to be moved from a congested neighborhood in Ginowan city on Okinawa, which hosts a large portion of the 50,000 U.S. military personnel stationed in Japan.

* SINGAPORE -- The city-state's new prime minister, Lee Hsien Loong, outlined his vision for Singapore, vowing to deliver on his call for a more open society by easing restrictions on free speech. Lee, who was sworn in 10 days ago, said public speakers would no longer be required to get police permits to express themselves inside buildings, unless they wanted to talk about religion or race.

THE AMERICAS

* CARACAS, Venezuela -- A military plane crashed into a mountain in central Venezuela, killing 25 people, including five children, an air force rescue team said in a statement. The SD3-30 twin-engine passenger and cargo plane took off from a military base in Orchila Island, 110 miles north of Caracas, and was headed to an air force base in Maracay, 40 miles west of Caracas.

* HAVANA -- Cuba threatened to sever diplomatic ties with Panama if that country's president pardons four Cuban exiles accused of plotting to kill Cuban President Fidel Castro four years ago. Cuban officials said outgoing Panamanian President Mireya Moscoso had been urged by Cuban exiles in the United States and Bush administration officials to pardon the four men before leaving office on Sept. 1.

The four men, Luis Posada Carriles, Gaspar Jimenez, Pedro Remon and Guillermo Novo Sampol, were arrested in November 2000 for plotting to bomb a University of Panama auditorium where Castro was due to speak during a summit of Iberian and Latin American leaders. They were convicted of conspiracy and possessing explosives, and were sentenced in April to prison terms of seven to eight years.

THE MIDDLE EAST

* JERUSALEM -- The number of Palestinians on hunger strikes in Israeli jails has almost doubled to 2,900 in the week since a protest was launched, prison officials said. Israel vowed not to budge on the prisoners' demands that wardens stop strip searches, allow more frequent family visits, improve sanitation and install public telephones.

-- From News Services