Pakistani President:

Nuclear Scientist Gave

Centrifuges to N. Korea

TOKYO -- Pakistan's president said the country's former top nuclear scientist gave centrifuge machines and their designs to North Korea, detailing for the first time what nuclear technology was transferred to the communist nation, a Japanese media report said.

The Pakistani president, Gen. Pervez Musharraf, said in an interview with Kyodo News released Wednesday that Abdul Qadeer Khan "passed centrifuges -- parts and complete. I do not exactly remember the number."

Musharraf's spokesman Maj. Gen. Shaukat Sultan said the Pakistani leader had confirmed that Khan provided centrifuges for enriching uranium and their designs to North Korea in an interview Tuesday.

Khan said in early 2004 that he had spread sensitive technology to Iran, Libya and North Korea without the knowledge of the government.


* EL ARISH, Egypt -- Egyptian security forces besieging parts of northern Sinai clashed with gunmen Wednesday and arrested 26 people during a massive search for suspects linked to the recent attacks in the peninsula, police said.

One police official said 650 people had been rounded up in Sinai since searches for suspects began on Monday. Most of the arrests were in El Arish on the Mediterranean coast in northern Sinai.

* TEHRAN -- Iran's parliament rocked President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's fledgling government by rejecting four of his cabinet nominees, including the proposed oil minister, who would oversee the second-largest production of crude in OPEC.

The vote was a rude awakening for Ahmadinejad, a religious conservative who took office this month promising to root out corruption and redistribute the Islamic state's vast oil wealth.

The outcome suggested Ahmadinejad would not always enjoy a smooth ride from parliament and pointed to rifts developing within the conservative camp, which has driven reformers from all branches of power in the last three years.

Ahmadinejad's nominee to be oil minister, Ali Saeedlou, a close ally who lawmakers said lacked oil industry experience, claimed just 101 votes from the 284 lawmakers present, well short of the simple majority required.


* BOGOTA, Colombia -- Marxist rebels killed at least a dozen peasants who were growing coca crops in the northwestern Colombian jungle, a local official said.

Members of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia killed at least 11 men and one woman they found in coca bush fields between the towns of Taraza and Valdivia, said Jorge Mejia, deputy to the governor of Antioquia province.

The rebel group relies on the cultivation of coca, the raw ingredient for producing cocaine, for much of its revenue. Rebels have killed growers who either refuse to cooperate or work with rival paramilitary groups.

* MANAGUA, Nicaragua -- Former president Arnoldo Aleman faces civil trial in the United States over allegations he purchased U.S. bank certificates with money stolen from Nicaragua's government, the U.S. Embassy said.

A civil complaint filed by the U.S. government alleges that certificates of deposit "were purchased with funds stolen from the Nicaraguan government by Jerez and Aleman." Byron Jerez was Aleman's tax chief. The trial is set to begin Sept. 6 in Miami.

The certificates in U.S. banks total almost $700,000 and were issued in the name of Aleman or family members, according to the complaint.

Nicaraguan prosecutors allege that Jerez diverted millions of dollars in government funds into assets in South Florida. Jerez is serving an eight-year prison term in Nicaragua. Aleman was sentenced to 20 years in prison on fraud and money-laundering convictions in Nicaragua more than two years ago. He is currently under house arrest.

* SANTIAGO, Chile -- The country's Supreme Court upheld tax evasion charges against the wife and youngest son of Gen. Augusto Pinochet, a victory for investigators seeking to try the former dictator over $27 million held in secret accounts.

A tax case against Pinochet and his family has gained speed in courts while criminal cases stemming from Pinochet's 17-year reign languish in the courts.

-- From News Services

Flooding cut off the Austrian village of Ischgl following storms that killed at least 34 people across Europe this week. More than 250 people were evacuated from a submerged section of Bern, the Swiss capital, and seven people drowned overnight in Romania when water surged into their homes.