WASHINGTON

U.S. Navy helping pirated vessel

A U.S. Navy destroyer helped sailors who retook control of their vessel yesterday in a deadly battle with pirates after the North Korean-flagged ship was hijacked off Somalia, the American military said.

A helicopter flew from the USS James E. Williams to investigate a phoned-in tip of a hijacked vessel, and demanded by bridge-to-bridge radio that the pirates give up their weapons, the military said in a statement.

The crew of the Dai Hong Dan then overwhelmed the hijackers, leaving two pirates dead, according to preliminary reports, and five captured, the military said.

Three seriously injured crew members were brought aboard the Williams, the statement said. The pirates remained on the Dai Hong Dan, which the crew was returning to the port of Mogadishu.

A U.S. Navy spokeswoman said piracy was a scourge in Somalia’s waters, and American ships were available to intercede.

N’DJAMENA, Chad

Chad gov’t charges 6 French citizens with kidnapping

Authorities charged six French nationals with kidnapping after a failed attempt to fly 103 children to France who a charity said were orphans from Sudan’s war-battered Darfur region, officials said yesterday.

Interior Minister Ahmat Bachir said if the six were found guilty, they would face up to 20 years in jail with hard labor.

A judge in eastern city of Abeche also agreed late Monday to allow prosecutors’ charges of complicity against three French journalists, said Justice Minister Pahimi Padacket Albert.

A seven-person flight crew also would be charged with complicity, he told The Associated Press.

Authorities in Chad detained 17 people – nine of them French – after the French charity tried to put the children on a plane last week.

SANTO DOMINGO, Dominican Republic

Tropical storm kills at least 20

Tropical Storm Noel headed toward the Bahamas on yesterday after causing flooding and mudslides that killed at least 20 people in the Dominican Republic and left another 20 missing, officials said.

Forecasters said a tropical storm watch, which means that tropical storm conditions are possible within 36 hours, may be issued for southeast Florida later in the day.

The spinning tropical storm had been forecast to hit Haiti hardest but veered toward the Dominican Republic, apparently catching residents off guard Monday.

“We didn’t know that it was going to be like this, it took us by surprise,” said Guarionex Rosado as he left his home in La Cienaga, one of Santo Domingo’s most affected neighborhoods.

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan

Suicide bomber kills 7 people

A bomber blew himself up about a quarter-mile from President Gen. Pervez Musharraf’s office yesterday, killing seven people and deepening Pakistan’s insecurity ahead of crucial elections.

Officials said the attacker detonated his explosives among police at a checkpoint in the garrison city of Rawalpindi, just south of the capital, Islamabad.

Musharraf was safely inside Army House, about a quarter-mile away, where the blast was clearly heard, said presidential spokesman Rashid Qureshi.

– Compiled from Daily wire reports

U.S. Casualties: 3,840

Number of American service members who have died in the War in Iraq, according to The Associated Press. There were no new casualties identified yesterday.

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