Palestinians, Israeli army exchange fire


A Palestinian fugitive emerging from a building surrounded by Israeli soldiers opened fire yesterday, killing an Israeli officer before being shot dead by other soldiers, the army said.

At the Karni truck crossing between Israel and Gaza, meanwhile, a Palestinian opened fire and threw grenades, killing two Israeli workers and wounding another three before he was shot and killed by army troops, the army said.

In the West Bank city of Nablus, troops from an elite army unit, backed by helicopters, encircled a building in the Rafidiyah neighborhood and called on three fugitives holed up inside to surrender.

As the three emerged from the building, the third in line, Mazen Fraitekh, fired a pistol, killing Lt. Daniel Mandel, 24, and wounding another soldier.

Fraitekh was shot and wounded and retreated into the building, military officials said.

Mandel, from the Jewish settlement of Allon Shvut in the West Bank, was a Canadian citizen, according to the Canadian embassy in Tel Aviv. Local residents said Mandel was from Toronto.

Troops remained outside the five-story building for several hours, eventually storming it to discover Fraitekh had died of his wounds.

U.S. Army captures Palestinian terrorist


U.S. commandos in Baghdad have captured Abul Abbas, the leader of the violent Palestinian group that killed an American on the hijacked cruise liner Achille Lauro in 1985, U.S. officials said yesterday.

Abbas was taken by American special operations forces during a raid Monday night on the southern outskirts of the capital city, U.S. Central Command said in a statement.

Several of his associates were also detained during raids at several sites around Baghdad, defense officials said. Commandos, tipped off by U.S. intelligence to Abbas’ whereabouts, also seized documents – including Yemeni and Lebanese passports – and weapons such as rocket-propelled grenades, officials said.

American officials would not say whether Abbas would be held inside Iraq, taken to a third country or detained at a U.S. base. They also would not say whether he would face charges in the United States. Abbas was sentenced in absentia to life in prison in Italy for masterminding the Achille Lauro hijacking.

The man known as Abul Abbas, whose name actually is Mohammed Abbas, led a faction of the Palestine Liberation Front, a Palestinian splinter group.

Nine more victims join SARS death toll


Doctors saved the baby of a pregnant woman dying of the respiratory ailment known as SARS, delivering the child by Caesarean section, hospital officials said. The mother was one of nine people whose deaths were reported yesterday as Hong Kong struggles to combat the disease.

The global toll topped 150, defying Asia’s battle to stop severe acute respiratory syndrome. U.S. experts warned the just-revealed genetic code for the suspected SARS virus doesn’t explain how it arose but should lead to better tests to detect it.

The SARS mother’s baby was born April 1, according to Hong Kong’s Princess Margaret Hospital, which declined to release information on the baby’s gender or condition.

The Ming Pao daily said the baby was not full-term but doctors decided the 34-year-old mother was so sick they should go ahead with the birth.

FBI cracks down on corrupt lab scientists


Reformed after controversy in the mid-1990s, the FBI crime lab is dealing with new wrongdoing by employees that has opened the door for challenges of the lab’s science in scores of cases involving DNA and bullet analysis, several internal documents show.

One FBI lab scientist, who connected suspects to bullets through lead analysis, has been indicted after admitting she gave false testimony, and a technician has resigned while under investigation for alleged improper testing of more than 100 DNA samples, according to records and interviews.

In addition, one of the lab’s retired metallurgists is challenging the bureau’s science on bullet analysis, prompting the FBI to ask the National Academy of Sciences to review its methodology, the records obtained by The Associated Press show.

Starbucks faces inter-national boycotts


Having installed its chic coffee stores across much of North America, Starbucks Corp. is aggressively expanding overseas – and like other global retailing icons, is finding that international fame can carry a price.

Starbucks has been boycotted by anti-war protesters in Lebanon and criticized by New Zealand advocates seeking higher coffee prices to farmers. Faced with the possibility of terrorist attacks, the company has pulled out of Israel.

Such dissent overseas recalls some of the problems faced by McDonald’s Corp., which has been targeted by everyone from anti-war demonstrators to vegetarians.

What some see as growth, others see as corporate colonialism. What some see as international expansion of Starbucks, others see as the outright hijacking of foreign cultures.

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