Pakistan Extradites

Taliban Fugitives

KABUL, Afghanistan -- Pakistan has extradited 14 Taliban fugitives to Afghanistan, the first such move by the Islamabad government since U.S.-led forces overthrew the radical Islamic militia in Afghanistan in 2001, officials said on Thursday.

Taliban spokesmen Abdul Latif Hakimi and Mohammad Yasar were the most senior members of the group sent by military plane on Wednesday.

The men, who were blindfolded for the trip, are to be tried in connection with violence against the Afghan government and U.S.-led foreign troops there, officials said.

In the past, Pakistan has handed over al Qaeda members and Taliban officials to the United States. This was the first time it had extradited Taliban fugitives to Kabul.

Afghanistan has complained repeatedly that Taliban guerrillas have organized attacks from Pakistan.

EUROPE

* AMSTERDAM -- Dutch officials were investigating a fire that raged through a prison complex near Schiphol Airport, killing 11 illegal immigrants awaiting deportation. Officials were facing questions about whether the government sacrificed safety in the crackdown.

The fire started in a cell just after midnight and spread quickly. It lasted three hours. Fifteen people were injured, including firefighters and police officers. Four people were hospitalized.

The Dutch Council for Refugees, an advocacy group, said it was the prison's third fire since it was built during a rapid expansion of detention facilities in 2002. Nobody was hurt in the previous fires.

Eleven detainees escaped, but six were captured. The nationalities of the dead were not immediately released.

* MOSCOW -- Jailed tycoon Mikhail Khodorkovsky promised supporters he would continue fighting Russia's "self-serving bureaucracy," two weeks after he arrived in a Siberian prison camp to serve out an eight-year sentence that he and his supporters say was politically motivated.

* COPENHAGEN -- Police arrested four Danish Muslims, ages 16 to 20, on suspicion of belonging to a network planning a suicide attack in Europe, officials said.

THE AMERICAS

* BOGOTA, Colombia -- About 80 right-wing paramilitary fighters and Marxist rebels died in a day-long battle over lucrative cocaine-producing land in western Colombia, a local official said.

* BRASILIA -- The political architect behind President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva's rise to power was found guilty of unethical behavior and is likely to be ousted from Congress over his involvement in a five-month-old corruption scandal. Jose Dirceu, former head of the Workers' Party, is the most senior casualty in a scandal that nearly ended the president's political career.

* QUITO, Ecuador -- Ecuador's Congress, in a deepening political conflict with President Alfredo Palacio over his plans for drafting a new constitution, requested that the Organization of American States intervene.

ASIA

* BANGKOK -- Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra said the government would hunt down the suspected Muslim insurgents who raided 60 targets in southern Thailand, stealing 90 weapons and causing at least seven deaths.

* GENEVA -- Helicopters ferrying food and supplies to earthquake-struck Pakistanis stranded in the Himalayas may have to be grounded in days if donors fail to increase emergency relief contributions, a U.N. official said.

AFRICA

* NAIROBI -- A severe drought in western and southern Somalia has killed dozens of people and hundreds of domestic animals, and it has raised fears of an outbreak of disease after a lack of seasonal rains, the information minister said.

The fledgling Somali government appealed for food, medicine and water tanks to cut the risk that hundreds of dehydrated residents might die while searching for water.

* ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia -- Officials said 18 new cases of polio have been discovered in Ethiopia, which has launched a nationwide vaccination campaign targeting 16 million children. An official said the virus had originated in Nigeria and that surveillance had been launched along the borders to prevent it from spreading.

-- From News Services