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U.S. warships surround hijacked freighter

NAIROBI, Kenya: U.S. warships yesterday surrounded an arms-laden freighter hijacked by pirates, sealing off any possible escape in a standoff near the craggy Somalia coastline. Lt. Nathan Christensen, a Navy spokesman, said that "several destroyers and missile cruisers" had joined the U.S. destroyer that was already following the hijacked vessel. He would not specify the number of warships or what they would do if the pirates refused to surrender. "Our intent is for the ship not to offload any of its cargo," he said, referring to the 33 battle tanks and large supply of grenade launchers and ammunition now in the hands of the pirates. The ship, operated by a Ukrainian arms supplier, was hijacked Thursday in Somalia's pirate-infested waters. The U.S. military, among others, fears that the pirates could sell the dangerous cargo to Islamist insurgents battling Somalia's weak government.

Cadbury recalls chocolate made in China

HONG KONG: British candy maker Cadbury announced a recall yesterday of chocolate made in its Beijing factory after it was found to contain melamine, the industrial chemical that has sickened tens of thousands of Chinese children. The 11 recalled items were sold in parts of Asia and the Pacific, the company said in a statement. Cadbury's chocolates sold in the United States were not affected, said a spokesman for Hershey's, Cadbury's sole U.S. distributor. Meanwhile, Kraft Foods, the maker of Oreo cookies, and Mars, the maker of M&Ms; and Snickers candy, questioned the findings of Indonesian tests that identified melamine in samples of their products made in China. Both Kraft Foods and Mars said they would comply with an Indonesian recall but planned to conduct their own tests and look into the possibility the tainted products were counterfeits.

12 bodies are found near school in Tijuana

TIJUANA, Mexico: The bodies of 11 men and one woman were found dumped in an empty lot next to a Tijuana elementary school yesterday morning, an hour before children were scheduled to arrive. City officials suspended classes after finding the victims, most of whom had been bound and tortured. Some were only partially clothed, said Tijuana police spokeswoman Prisna Perez. Minutes after the grisly discovery, four other bodies were found in another empty lot in Tijuana, and two other bodies were discovered late Sunday in a lot next to a factory. Investigators believe 16 of the victims were killed by warring drug gangs. The other two were victims of street crime, said Jose Manuel Yepiz, spokesman for the Baja California attorney general's office.

Former CIA official pleads guilty to fraud

WASHINGTON: The former No. 3 official at the CIA pleaded guilty yesterday to defrauding the government, closing an investigation that linked the nation's pre-eminent spy service to the corruption scandal involving former Republican Rep. Randy "Duke" Cunningham of California. In admitting that he abused his rank to steer lucrative contracts to cronies, Kyle Dustin "Dusty" Foggo, the agency's one-time executive director, became one of the highest-ranking officials in CIA history to be convicted of criminal charges. The deal involved major concessions from prosecutors, who allowed Foggo to admit guilt to a single fraud charge, wiping out 27 additional counts that included money laundering and conspiracy. Foggo, 53, faces up to 20 years in custody and a $250,000 fine, but prosecutors indicated that they would recommend he serve no more than 37 months. Foggo was accused of directing millions of dollars in business to a longtime friend, Brent Wilkes, who is serving a 12-year sentence after being convicted of bribing Cunningham

European tour group rescued from captors

CAIRO, Egypt: Egyptian and Sudanese troops, backed by European commandos, swooped down in helicopters yesterday to rescue a tour group that had been kidnapped in Egypt and taken on a 10-day dash across the Sahara to the frontier of Chad. Freedom for the 11 European tourists and eight Egyptian guides came hours after Sudanese troops killed six of the abductors and captured two who revealed where the remaining gunmen were holding their captives. The brother of one of the freed Egyptians said he was told that the kidnappers abandoned the captives in the desert and fled soon before the rescuers arrived. Egyptian officials released no details of the rescue except to say troops used helicopters to bring out the prisoners.

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