Protestants Riot in Northern Ireland

BELFAST -- About 40 police officers were injured trying to break up a five-hour riot by Protestant militants who burned 10 cars and a double-decker bus in Belfast, officials said Friday.

Police said the rioters threw scores of gasoline bombs and at least one homemade grenade and tried to drive a hijacked vehicle into police lines late Thursday. Heavily armored police in flame-retardant suits suffered a range of injuries, none of them life-threatening.

Officers fired 11 plastic bullets in response, police said. No civilians were reported injured, although people who are lightly injured while rioting typically avoid hospitals for fear of arrest.

The mob dispersed from Belfast's Crumlin Road and Shankill Road areas at about 1 a.m. Militants said they were venting anger over recent police raids on the homes of Protestant paramilitary figures in the area. About 15 homes were raided and six men arrested shortly before the riot began.

EUROPE

* DUBLIN -- Three men linked to the Irish Republican Army who were convicted of training rebels in Colombia have returned surreptitiously to Ireland, eight months after they disappeared while their case was being appealed.

RTE, the Irish national broadcaster, carried an interview with one of the fugitives, Jim Monaghan. He said all three had returned to Ireland recently, "and, as you can imagine, a lot of people in a lot of countries had to help us."

Monaghan, Niall Connolly and Martin McCauley were arrested in August 2001 as they were trying to board a flight out of Colombia.

ASIA

* KABUL, Afghanistan -- Two U.S. service members drowned after their Humvee slid into a river during an operation targeting insurgents in eastern Afghanistan, the American military said.

The deaths occurred Thursday, the same day another American soldier was killed by a roadside bomb near the Pakistan border.

* BEIJING -- Talks to defuse the North Korean nuclear crisis dragged into their 12th day on Saturday, with negotiators trying to break the deadlock as Pyongyang clings to the right to peaceful nuclear capability.

The talks between the Koreas, the United States, Japan, Russia and host nation China have become bogged down, with parties unable to agree on a joint statement that would provide for the dismantling of North Korea's nuclear programs in return for energy aid and security guarantees.

* HIROSHIMA, Japan -- Tens of thousands of people from around the world gathered in Hiroshima to mark the 60th anniversary of the atomic bombing of the city and to renew calls for the abolition of nuclear arms.

THE AMERICAS

* NUEVO LAREDO, Mexico -- The U.S. consulate in Nuevo Laredo will reopen, the U.S. ambassador to Mexico said Friday, a week after announcing the offices would be closed because of violence in the city.

-- From News Services