Cubans try to hijack plane to U.S.; 1 dead

HAVANA - Fugitive army soldiers tried yesterday to hijack a plane bound for the United States and killed a military officer they took hostage during the failed attempt, the Interior Ministry said.

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The ministry blamed U.S. policies that the communist government says encourage Cubans to immigrate to the United States and Washington's tolerance of violence against Cuba.

The predawn incident began when the fugitives commandeered a city bus near the airport and forced it to drive inside and onto the tarmac of Terminal 2, which services charter flights between Havana and the U.S. Most charter flights out of Terminal 2 fly to Miami.

Army Lt. Col. Victor Ibo Acuna Velazquez was killed aboard the plane, but no crew members or passengers were on board, the ministry said. Two fugitive soldiers were arrested. - AP

Amid turmoil, Turks set vote date

Turkey said yesterday that it would hold general elections July 22, as Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan's government sought to end a week of political turmoil sparked by the army's objections to its Islamist-leaning candidate for president.

A government proposal to move the parliamentary election forward by 13 weeks was approved by 458 lawmakers in the 550-seat parliament in Ankara, deputy speaker Sadik Yakut said. None of the deputies voted against the motion.

Turkey's parliament met to call the election after the secular army last week objected to a move by the government to elect Foreign Minister Abdullah Gul as president and the Constitutional Court canceled a first round of balloting. - Bloomberg News

U.S. presence low at Arab tourist fair

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates - Promoters from 64 countries vied this week to lure rich Arab tourists to their countries at the Middle East's largest tourism convention. But not a single promoter from the United States showed up.

The U.S. government sent officials from the Homeland Security Department to demonstrate its mandatory fingerprinting of Arab and other foreign visitors.

A pair of U.S. Homeland Security officials did their best to promote such tourist sights as the Grand Canyon while explaining that being fingerprinted by U.S. immigration does not make a person a criminal.- AP

Elsewhere:

A feared paramilitary boss, Rodrigo Tovar Pupo, better known as "Jorge 40," has been charged with ordering the murders of two Colombian union leaders at a coal mine owned by Alabama-based Drummond Co. Inc., being sued in the U.S. for alleged complicity in the killings.

A crocodile seized a 5-year-old boy and dragged him into a river in western Mexico as his parents watched, according to authorities who said the child's body was found yesterday.

At least 21 workers, mostly foreigners, were kidnapped yesterday in attacks in Nigeria's oil-rice delta region that left a Nigerian soldier dead, officials said. Eight foreigners and a Nigerian driver were later freed.