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Ranch hands in Alice Springs, Australia, rope camels caught roaming wild. Officials are considering taking aim at the fast-growing group of animals.
Ranch hands in Alice Springs, Australia, rope camels caught roaming wild. Officials are considering taking aim at the fast-growing group of animals.
Associated Press

Australia: Camels hunted

SYDNEY — Thousands of camels in Australia's remote Outback could be killed by marksmen in helicopters under a government proposal aimed at cutting down the population of the havoc-wreaking creatures.

First introduced into Australia in the 1840s to help explorers travel through the Australian desert, there are now about 1 million camels roaming the country, with the population doubling every nine years.

They compete with sheep and cattle for food, trample vegetation and invade remote settlements in search of water, scaring residents as they tear apart bathrooms and rip up water pipes.

Last month, the federal government set aside $16 million for a program to help slash the population.

Indonesia: Al-Qaida death

BEJI — Police reportedly killed the self-proclaimed Southeast Asian commander of al-Qaida on Saturday in a 16-hour siege of a village hide-out, but authorities said they could not confirm that a recovered body was that of the militant leader without DNA tests.

Local TV stations reported that alleged terror mastermind Noordin Mohammad Top was killed in the lengthy bomb and gunbattle at a house in central Java. Noordin is suspected in last month's suicide bomb attacks on two American hotels in the capital, Jakarta, as well as the deaths of more than 220 people in bomb blasts on the resort island of Bali in 2002 and 2005.

Kenya: Pirates free ship

MOMBASA — A German freighter released by Somali pirates after nearly four months arrived Saturday in the Kenya port of Mombasa with the 24-member crew "exhausted" but in good condition.

The 20,000-ton Hansa Stavanger was released earlier this month after being captured 400 miles off the southern Somali port of Kismayu on April 4.

Venezuela: New policy

CARACAS — President Hugo Chavez announced he is sending his ambassador back to Colombia, signaling a willingness to ease a diplomatic impasse while still insisting Venezuela will oppose Colombia's plan to increase the U.S. military presence at its bases.

Chavez told Ambassador Gustavo Marquez on Saturday to return to Bogota, 11 days after he ordered the diplomat home amid the dispute with Bogota. Chavez reiterated his concerns that the U.S. could use bases in Colombia to destabilize the region.

Colombian officials have said Venezuela has no reason to be concerned, and that the U.S. forces would help fight drug trafficking. Under the lease agreement being negotiated, American troops would be able to use at least seven Colombian military bases.

Colombian officials say the proposed 10-year agreement would not boost the presence of American troops and civilian military contractors above the 1,400 currently permitted by U.S. law.

Mexico: Drug arrest

MEXICO CITY — Mexican federal police say they have captured a top lieutenant of the Tijuana-based Arellano Felix cartel.

Suspect Manuel Invanovich Zambrano Flores is among those listed on a U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration poster seeking information on the cartel.

The federal Public Safety Department said Saturday that Zambrano Flores was arrested in Tijuana, across from San Diego. Police seized 10 rifles, 7 pistols, almost 4,000 rounds of ammunition during his arrest.

The department says he was responsible "for a large part of the organization's drug shipments to the United States and its finances."

Zambrano Flores was detained Friday and is being held on suspicion of drug trafficking, weapons possession and organized crime charges.