Afghan police freed a female German hostage from a Kabul neighborhood and arrested a group of kidnappers early today, an Interior Ministry...

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Afghan police freed a female German hostage from a Kabul neighborhood and arrested a group of kidnappers early today, an Interior Ministry spokesman said.

The 31-year-old aid worker was freed during a raid not far from the restaurant where she was seized Saturday while dining with her husband, Zemary Bashari said. The woman’s husband was not abducted.

Sunday, Afghan television broadcast what it said was video of the woman, who identified herself as Christina Meier, calling for the release of unspecified prisoners, while being prompted by a man. Officials have not confirmed her identity.

Ali Shah Paktiawal, head of police criminal investigations in Kabul, ruled out involvement of the Taliban in the abduction but would not say who was responsible.

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Abduction fears have risen after 23 South Koreans and two Germans were taken hostage in separate incidents last month in central Afghanistan.


Passengers flee before 737 ignites

A China Airlines jet exploded into flames at an airport in Okinawa after arriving from Taiwan today. Officials said all 165 people aboard escaped alive.

The 157 passengers fled the Boeing 737-800 unhurt on inflated emergency slides just minutes before the plane burst into a fireball, Transport Ministry official Akihiko Tamura said.

The eight-member crew also left the plane safely, China Airlines spokesman Sun Hung-wen said in Taipei.

Sun said the aircraft skidded on its way from the runway to the gate after landing, starting a fire that prompted the exit.

“The fire started when the left engine exploded, a minute after the aircraft entered the parking spot,” Tamura said.

The cause of the fire was unknown. Japan’s National Police Agency said terrorism was not suspected.

Taiwan’s Civil Aeronautics Administration head Chang Kuo-cheng said authorities have ordered China Airlines and its subsidiary Mandarin Airlines to ground their 13 other Boeing 737-800s pending thorough inspection.


Protesters, police clash near airport

British police scuffled with groups of climate-change protesters Sunday near the headquarters of the operator of Heathrow Airport.

The protesters want Heathrow’s expansion plans dropped and the growth of air travel halted. Their action comes at the height of the holiday season at the world’s busiest international airport.

The clashes in a field close to airport operator BAA’s building came after largely peaceful marches from a camp where activists, who want to draw attention to the impact of aviation on global warming, have been massing all week.

BAA said the airport was operating normally and there was no disruption to passengers.

Police said they had made four arrests.


Typhoon creates tornado; 9 die

A typhoon slammed into China’s eastern coastline early Sunday, spawning a tornado that toppled more than 150 homes and killed at least nine people, state media reported.

Typhoon Sepat made landfall in southern Fujian province, but the storm is believed to have caused the formation of a tornado in Zhejiang province to the north.

More than 60 people were injured in Cangnan county, Xinhua News Agency said.

More than 900,000 people in Zhejiang, Fujian and Guangdong provinces had been evacuated ahead of the storm, which already killed one person in Taiwan.

Ankara, Turkey

Plane’s hijackers used “bomb” of clay

A “bomb” hijackers threatened to use against hostages on a Turkish plane Saturday turned out to be a block of modeling clay with wires attached, Turkish newspapers reported Sunday.

Two men, one Turkish and one a Syrian passport holder thought to be Palestinian, hijacked the plane Saturday as it headed from Cyprus to Istanbul and demanded it be taken to Tehran, Iran’s capital.

Most passengers were released or escaped through emergency exits, but six crew and passengers were held hostage until the hijackers surrendered about five hours after pilots managed to land the plane at Antalya airport in southwest Turkey.

Seattle Times news services

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