5 Slain in Saudi Clash

Were Top Militants

RIYADH, Saudi Arabia -- Saudi security forces killed five of the country's most wanted militants during a three-day siege in an oil-producing eastern province this week, the Interior Ministry said on Wednesday.

Security sources had said at least six militants were killed in the fierce clashes, but a ministry statement read on state television said five suspects died -- all of whom were featured on a list of wanted men published in June.

Four policemen also died before security forces seized control of the bombed-out villa on Tuesday in the Persian Gulf city of Dammam, which is close to some of Saudi Arabia's main oil installations.

Saudi Arabia has been battling a two-year wave of violence by supporters of al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden. They have targeted Westerners and security forces in the world's biggest oil exporter.

The five men killed in Dammam were identified as Zaid Samari, Saleh Harbi, Sultan Hasiri, Nayef Shamri and Mohammad Suwailimi. They were all Saudis, ages 22 to 31.

EUROPE

* ATHENS -- Alarms heard on a Cypriot airliner that crashed near Athens last month confused pilots, who did not realize there was a lack of oxygen in the cabin, the International Herald Tribune reported.

The German captain and his Cypriot co-pilot struggled to communicate effectively in English and misinterpreted the alarms, failing to identify problems with the pressurization of the plane, the report said, citing sources close to the crash investigation.

The Boeing 737, operated by Helios Airways, crashed east of Athens on Aug. 14, killing all 121 people on board.

* ROME -- Former Russian president Boris Yeltsin was hospitalized briefly in Italy after falling and breaking a leg at a villa on the island of Sardinia, officials said.

A Yeltsin spokesman told Russia's ITAR-Tass news agency that the 74-year-old broke a thigh bone. Russia's Interfax news agency quoted a source close to Yeltsin as saying he left Wednesday evening for Moscow and was expected to be re-hospitalized.

africa

* HARARE, Zimbabwe -- President Robert Mugabe's government doubled fuel prices for the second time in 10 weeks, a decision likely to send living costs soaring further in the crisis-ridden southern African state.

Zimbabwe has suffered erratic fuel supplies since 1999 because of chronic foreign currency shortages and widespread economic woes. Mugabe's opponents blame him for the problems, a charge he denies.

ASIA

* KABUL, Afghanistan -- A car exploded in the southern town of Girishk, killing its three occupants and a passerby, in what appeared to be a bungled suicide attack, a provincial official said.

Security has been stepped up across Afghanistan before Sept. 18 parliamentary elections that have been denounced by Taliban insurgents.

In a separate incident, a female candidate for parliament was attacked in the east of the country, and three of her assistants were wounded, she said. Safia Siddiqui was traveling in a mountainous district of Nangahar province when her convoy came under fire. She was not injured.

* TOKYO -- Typhoon Nabi faded into a tropical storm and headed out to sea after killing at least 17 people in southwestern Japan.

THE AMERICAS

* KINGSTON, Jamaica -- The government accused the main opposition party of hurting Jamaica's productivity, a day after widespread street protests that left one man dead, blocked roads and forced most businesses and schools to close.

Police began clearing roadblocks of fallen trees, burned-out cars, tires and other debris that demonstrators had pushed into the streets Tuesday to protest the rising cost of water, electricity and public transportation.

* BOGOTA, Colombia -- Leftist rebels attacked energy towers in Colombia for the second time in three days, this time leaving more than a 100,000 people without electricity along the country's Pacific coast, officials said.

-- From News Services