U.S. military plane crashes; 3 aboard

A U.S. military refueling plane carrying three crew members crashed Friday in the rugged mountains of Kyrgyzstan, the Central Asian nation where the United States operates an air base key to the war in Afghanistan.

There was no word on the fate of the KC-135 crew as the search for them was suspended for the night. Cargo planes do not have ejector seats. Officials at the U.S. base said they had no information yet on the cause of the crash.

The plane crashed at 2:55 p.m. near Chaldovar, a village 100 miles west of the U.S. Transit Center at Manas base outside the Kyrgyz capital, Bishkek.

One resident of the agricultural and sheep-grazing area said the plane exploded in flight.

“I was working with my father in the field, and I heard an explosion. When I looked up at the sky I saw the fire. When it was falling, the plane split into three pieces,” Sherikbek Turusbekov told an AP reporter at the site.

The U.S. base was established in late 2001 to support the international military campaign in Afghanistan and has been the subject of a contentious dispute between the United States and its host nation.

— Associated Press

Opposition: Regime carried out massacre

Syria’s main opposition group accused President Bashar al-
Assad’s regime on Friday of committing a “large-scale massacre” in a coastal Sunni village in which activists say at least 50 were killed with guns, knives and blunt objects.

The killings in Baida reflect the sectarian overtones of Syria’s civil war. Tucked in the mountains outside the city of Baniyas, the village is inhabited mostly by Sunni Muslims, who dominate the country’s rebel movement. But it is in the heartland of Assad’s Alawite sect, an offshoot of Shiite Islam.

In amateur video purportedly taken after the killings, the bodies of at least seven men and boys are seen strewn on the pavement in front of a house as women weep around them. The video appears genuine and consistent with reporting by the Associated Press from the area.

— Associated Press

Last workers leave Korean factory complex: The last remaining South Korean workers at an industrial zone jointly run with North Korea left the complex Friday, bringing activities to a halt for the first time since the park opened nearly a decade ago. All seven workers returned to South Korea, the South’s Unification Ministry said. North Korea recalled its workers from the factory park April 8 to protest U.S. and South Korean joint annual military drills, which concluded this week.

China offers to host Israeli-
Palestinian talks:
The Chinese government says it is willing to set up a meeting between Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas when the two leaders visit Beijing next week, if the sides express interest in doing so. China has traditionally had a low profile in Middle East diplomacy but in recent years has tried to play a more active role.

Sudanese traders reported killed in South Sudan: At least 11 Sudanese traders were killed this week by unknown gunmen as they crossed into South Sudanese territory, a military official said, blaming the attack on militiamen who want to shatter the prevailing peace between the two Sudans. The incident happened nearly two weeks after South Sudan and Sudan agreed to open 10 crossing points along their border to boost the movement of goods and people.

Cuba open to U.N., Red Cross visits: Cuba said it would consider letting in U.N. human rights investigators to examine allegations of torture and repression and allowing Red Cross officials access to its prisons after a gap of nearly 25 years. The call for access by Western countries was among 293 recommendations presented to Cuba at the U.N. Human Rights Council in ­Geneva during a debate on its record. Others included granting Internet access and freedom of expression.

Baggage handlers in Italy held in thefts: Italian police have arrested 29 airport baggage handlers accused of stealing cameras, cellphones and other loot from passengers’ luggage, a bust made possible after hidden cameras were installed in airplane cargo holds. Italian national carrier ­Alitalia said it cooperated with police at Rome’s Leonardo da Vinci airport and in Lamezia Terme, in the south, where the investigation began in 2011 and spread to a half-dozen airports across the country.

— From news services