Palestinian Security Official

Abducted Briefly by Gunmen

GAZA CITY -- Gunmen briefly abducted a senior Palestinian security officer Thursday in the latest sign of growing anarchy in the Gaza Strip, and supporters of Yasser Arafat staged a mass rally calling for action against vigilantes.

In a daylight ambush in Gaza City, masked men stopped the jeep of Brig. Gen. Mohammed Batrawi, financial comptroller of the security forces in Gaza, bundled him into another car and took him to the nearby Nusseirat refugee camp.

They held him for three hours in a house ringed with explosives, threatening to detonate the charges if police approached and to shoot journalists if they did not leave the scene.

Palestinian officials said Batrawi was eventually freed, with no concessions made for his release.


* BOGOTA, Colombia -- Colombia seized hundreds of drugstores across the country suspected of laundering money for the Cali cocaine cartel, in the biggest property seizure in Colombia's history. A team of 465 prosecutors, with 3,000 police officers and 20 accountants, began to take possession of Drogas La Rebaja stores countrywide, law enforcement officials said.


* BARCELONA -- Spain and France have agreed to set up joint police units to investigate Islamic militant groups and the Basque separatist group ETA, Spain said.


* SEOUL -- North Korea said it would not join six-nation talks aimed at ending its nuclear weapons program until rival South Korea fully disclosed the details of its secret atomic experiments.

The communist state relayed its position when British Foreign Office Minister Bill Rammell visited Pyongyang this week, an unidentified spokesman for the North Korean Foreign Ministry told the North's official news agency, KCNA.

Meanwhile, the area where a group of Western diplomats were taken by North Korea to see a hydroelectric project was not the site of a suspected explosion last week, a South Korean official was quoted as saying on Friday.

* SRINAGAR, India -- Shops and businesses were closed in most parts of Indian Kashmir's main city to protest the killing of an aide to a top Kashmiri separatist leader.

Unidentified gunmen on Wednesday shot dead Peer Hisam-u-Din, who was political secretary to Syed Ali Shah Geelani, chairman of a hard-line pro-Pakistan group.


* RIYADH, Saudi Arabia -- A Briton who was shot dead in an apparent terrorist attack outside a Saudi shopping center has been identified as an employee of the British communications company Marconi. Edward Stuart Muirhead-Smith was killed in the parking lot of the Max shopping center in eastern Riyadh on Wednesday.

-- From News Services