Afghan Agents Thwart a Plot

On U.S. Envoy, Officials Say

KABUL, Afghanistan -- Afghan intelligence agents scuttled a plot to assassinate the outspoken U.S. ambassador, Zalmay Khalilzad, swooping down on a station wagon carrying three Pakistanis armed with assault rifles and rocket-propelled grenades, officials said Monday.

The arrests came days after President Hamid Karzai and U.S. officials warned that foreign fighters were slipping into Afghanistan to cause mayhem in advance of parliamentary elections.

The men were arrested Sunday in the Qarghayi district of northeastern Laghman province, just 150 feet from where Khalilzad had planned to inaugurate a road with Afghanistan's interior minister, two senior Afghan officials told the Associated Press.

The officials said agents were lying in wait after intelligence forces were tipped off about the plot. Khalilzad, who is to be the next U.S. ambassador in Iraq, canceled his appearance at the road opening at the last minute and was not in danger.


* JAKARTA, Indonesia -- Health officials confirmed four more cases of polio, bringing the total number in Indonesia to 50 since the crippling disease broke out on the western end of Java three months ago.

In response to Indonesia's first polio outbreak in a decade, health officials carried out a massive drive in late May to vaccinate more than 6 million children in three provinces. They plan to repeat the exercise later this month.

But health care workers have acknowledged within the last week that they face increasing difficulty convincing parents to cooperate, because several children died or fell ill soon after taking the polio vaccine last month. Health officials have said the vaccine was not at fault.

-- Alan Sipress

* BEIJING -- China's State Council on Tuesday appointed veteran civil servant Donald Tsang as Hong Kong's next leader.


* BISSAU, Guinea-Bissau -- Poll workers relied on everything from helicopters to traditional sea canoes to gather results from an election that citizens hope will usher Guinea-Bissau's powerful military out of power.

Sunday's vote in the first presidential race since a bloodless 2003 military coup had three former heads of state -- including a former military leader -- among the 13 candidates.

Final results were expected within nine days.


* CARACAS, Venezuela -- Venezuela is ready to work with U.S. law enforcement agencies to fight terrorism and drug-trafficking but not with the CIA, which is trying to topple President Hugo Chavez, a cabinet minister said.

Interior Minister Jesse Chacon swore in the new chief of Venezuela's national intelligence service, Col. Henry Rangel, and said the service was willing to work with foreign counterparts, including agencies from the United States.

* HAVANA -- Cuba's Communist government has revoked some 2,000 licenses from self-employed workers across the island, part of a campaign to reassert state control over the economy, local media reported.


* JERUSALEM -- Palestinian gunmen killed an Israeli motorist in a West Bank ambush and Israeli troops caught an alleged female suicide bomber with explosives hidden in her pants, escalating a wave of violence that has strained a shaky cease-fire.

Palestinian officials condemned the violence, which also included the shooting death of a Palestinian man by Israeli troops. But Israel demanded tougher action.

* JERUSALEM -- Israel arrested 52 Islamic Jihad fighters in the West Bank overnight, following a series of attacks by the group against Israeli targets, the army said.

* ISTANBUL -- An Islamic militant who leads a group calling for the overthrow of Turkey's secular government was convicted of planning to crash a plane into the hillside where the founder of modern Turkey, Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, is buried.

A court in Istanbul convicted Metin Kaplan and sentenced him to life in prison for attempting "to overturn the constitutional order" -- a charge that amounts to treason.


* MADRID -- The judge investigating last year's Madrid train bombings jailed five men who were suspected of having close ties to organizers of the attack and helping key suspects flee Spain, officials at the National Court said.

The men were arrested last week as part of a crackdown that also netted 11 suspects alleged to belong to a Syrian-based network that recruited people for suicide attacks in Iraq. The 11 were still undergoing questioning at the court Monday.

The five suspects, arrested June 14 in Madrid and Barcelona, were ordered jailed on suspicion of links to a terrorist organization.

* UNITED NATIONS -- The United Nations announced it was sending a special envoy to Zimbabwe to investigate a government crackdown on squatter settlements that aid workers say has left 200,000 people homeless.

* VATICAN CITY -- The highest ranking Vatican official to visit Russia since the start of Pope Benedict's papacy began a mission to Moscow to test the waters for improving ties with the Russian Orthodox Church.

Walter Kasper, head of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity and Benedict's point man for relations with other Christians, will spend four days in Moscow.

-- From News Services