Palestinian Attackers Release

Son of Slain Security Chief

GAZA CITY -- The kidnapped son of Moussa Arafat, former security chief in the Gaza Strip, was released early Friday, two days after he was seized by the attackers who killed his father.

Manhal Arafat was seen entering the office of Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas in Gaza City, accompanied by Palestinian officials.

A masked man who said he represented the Popular Resistance Committees, a renegade group, reaffirmed responsibility for Wednesday's killing of Moussa Arafat, a cousin of the late Yasser Arafat, after leaders of the group had distanced themselves from the attack.

In Jerusalem on Thursday, Israel's top court ruled that the army can demolish the synagogues of evacuated Jewish settlements in Gaza, clearing a last hurdle to Israeli withdrawal from the territory.

Israeli troops guarding one of the 21 demolished Gaza settlements shot and killed a Palestinian at a perimeter fence, the second such killing this week.

Also, newly revealed medical records have failed to solve the mystery of what led to the massive stroke that killed Yasser Arafat in November 2004, although they cast doubt on popular conspiracy theories about poisoning or AIDS.

EUROPE

* VATICAN CITY -- Pope Benedict XVI has invited bishops from China's state-controlled church and from unofficial Catholic churches to attend a meeting of the world's bishops next month, another indication of his desire to bring all Chinese Catholics together under Rome's wing.

THE AMERICAS

* BOGOTA, Colombia -- Leftist rebels and right-wing paramilitary fighters battled in a remote village, leaving 15 people dead, including two children, in a fight over territory and the cocaine trade, authorities said.

* QUITO, Ecuador -- Interior Minister Mauricio Gandara, under investigation by Congress for his handling of protests last month that shut down oil production, was fired, a presidential spokesman said.

ASIA

* KARACHI, Pakistan -- Mufti Mohammed Sabir, an Islamic radical wanted in connection with a bomb attack that killed 11 French engineers and four others in May 2002, was arrested after a shootout, police said.

* JAKARTA, Indonesia -- An Indonesian radical, Abdul Fatah, received a seven-year prison term for his role in a suicide bombing last year at the Australian Embassy, blamed on the terror group Jemaah Islamiyah.

* LUCKNOW, India -- The death toll from an outbreak of Japanese encephalitis in northern India reached 594, officials said after 53 people died overnight.

AFRICA

* KIGALI, Rwanda -- Authorities have arrested a Belgian priest, Guy Theunis, and accused him of inciting people to participate in the 1994 genocide, a prosecutor said.

-- From News Services