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HONG KONG — Officials stepped up a hunt for a serial dog poisoner that killed at least four canine victims in December, police said. Nine dogs became ill in December and four of them died after they lapped up scraps of poisoned meat while being taken on walks along popular footpaths on Hong Kong Island.


BOGOTA — After a wave of bloody rebel attacks, President Andres Pastrana's peace envoy flew into guerrilla territory Thursday on a mission to bring Colombia's largest insurgent group into cease-fire talks. Conversations between the two sides have been frozen for months.


BIRMINGHAM — A private jet bound for the United States crashed on takeoff Friday at Birmingham International airport in central England, killing five Americans on board, airport and emergency officials said. An airport spokesman said the twin-engine Canadair Challenger executive jet crashed just after noon. He said the plane, carrying two passengers and three crew, was believed to be a private or corporate jet en route to Bangor, Maine.


BERLIN — Germany's conservative opposition, gaining ground in opinion polls, said today it would beat Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder in a September election by attacking his failure to cut unemployment and boost the economy.


PALERMO, Sicily — Police captured about 100 illegal immigrants from Sri Lanka who had landed near the Sicilian city of Catania by boat. Police seized the fleeing immigrants near the mouth of the Simento river and said they might find more who had escaped into a neighbouring park.


NAIROBI — A Kenyan air force helicopter crashed today, killing six crew members and seriously injuring the pilot, the Defense Ministry said.


KUALA LUMPUR — Malaysian authorities have arrested 13 people they suspect may be linked to Sept. 11 terrorist suspect Zacarias Moussaoui, the national police chief said today. Authorities accuse the suspects of belonging to an Islamic militant group that Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad says aimed to topple the government and establish a hardline Islamic state comprising Malaysia, Indonesia and the southern Philippines.

Northern Ireland

COLERAINE — A suspected anti-Catholic militant was killed when the pipe bomb he was carrying exploded in his face, police said today. William Moore Campbell, 19, died when the bomb exploded Thursday night outside an abandoned house in the northern coastal town of Coleraine. Police said the victim lived nearby and the house was being used by Protestant paramilitary outlaws to store weapons.


VLADIVOSTOK — A bomb hidden in a desk lamp and delivered as a New Year's gift exploded in the Pacific port of Vladivostok today, wounding three oil company employees, police said. They speculated the blast might have been linked to a business dispute.

Saudi Arabia

RIYADH — The United States has released 12 Saudi nationals detained for questioning after the Sept. 11 attacks, the Saudi ambassador to Washington said in remarks published today.


DAKAR — A policeman was killed by suspected separatist rebels as they looted a town in southern Senegal, security sources in the West African country said today. The sources said the heavily armed assailants raided stores and businesses late Thursday night in western districts of Ziguinchor.


BANGKOK — Police seized more than two million methamphetamine pills, known as "speed," with a street value of 205 million baht ($4.65 million) hidden in a truck with military markings parked at a busy shopping mall in eastern Bangkok.

BANGKOK — In a bid to end a scourge of stray dogs and wandering elephants, Bangkok authorities plan to pass a law punishing people with fines or jail terms who abandon their pets, a city councilor said. The regulation would require owners of dogs, cats, elephants, cows, water buffalo and "wild animals" not to leave their animals unattended in public places.


COUVA — Opposition to Trinidad's new government mounted Thursday with a major political party declaring Patrick Manning was illegally installed as prime minister.


HANOI — Workers who found an unexploded artillery shell at a building site in Vietnam left it on a park bench, shocking passersby, a military official said.