Suspects arrested in Israeli deaths

JERUSALEM - The Palestinian prime minister said yesterday that his security forces had arrested a number of suspects in the killings of two off-duty Israeli soldiers in the West Bank and had given Israeli authorities weapons taken from the dead men by their attackers.

Sharing a podium with Israeli President Shimon Peres at an economic conference near Tel Aviv, Prime Minister Salam Fayyad expressed "heartfelt" condolences to the families of the Israelis and sought to limit diplomatic fallout for peace talks, which just restarted after a seven-year hiatus.

- AP

Maliki in London for a checkup

BAGHDAD - Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki flew to London yesterday for what he said was a routine medical checkup.

Two aides denied wire reports that Maliki, who has faced increasing criticism for presiding over a paralyzed government, was suffering from exhaustion.

They said he had wanted a checkup for some time, and had decided to take advantage of an ebb in violence to make the trip. He is expected back in Iraq within days, said Yasin Majeed, the prime minister's media adviser.

- Los Angeles Times

Captives due to be freed in Colombia

VILLAVICENCIO, Colombia - A mission to retrieve three rebel-held hostages from Colombia's jungles was on standby, with filmmaker Oliver Stone and observers from eight countries waiting for the guerrillas to give the pickup point's coordinates to Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez.

Chavez dispatched two helicopters Friday to this central Colombian city. Colombia allowed them into its territory to pick up former congresswoman Consuelo Gonzalez; hostage Clara Rojas; and Rojas' young son, Emmanuel, fathered by a guerrilla. The women have been held captive by the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia for about six years.

- AP

Chinese arrest dissident blogger

BEIJING - In what human-rights activists are calling a pre-Olympics crackdown on criticism, a leading dissident has been arrested here on charges of "subverting state authority."

Hu Jia, 34, is among the best-known in a new generation of Chinese online dissidents, blogging about issues ranging from the treatment of AIDS patients to the Tibetan antelope. His relentless activism had landed him in jail many times before, but this latest arrest probably will provoke a greater outcry because of the spotlight aimed at Beijing in the run-up to the 2008 Summer Olympics.

Hu and his wife, 24-year-old fellow blogger Zhen Zinyan, were under house arrest when police barged into their Beijing home Thursday afternoon. Zhen, who gave birth six weeks ago to a daughter, was not taken into custody.

- Los Angeles Times

Elsewhere:

Six people were missing

and eight injured after explosions ripped through an army base in the Colombian city of Medellin yesterday, army officials said.

Croatia's interior minister

resigned after being photographed on a hunting trip with a high-ranking war-crimes suspect accused in the 1995 slayings of dozens of Serb rebels.

A Norwegian cruise ship

carrying about 300 people lost engine power during an electrical outage and struck an Antarctic glacier, smashing a lifeboat but causing no injuries, officials said.