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【整理】SENEWS-2004-0825-2330

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It is 23:30 Universal Time, I'm Jim Tedder in Washington.

[1] Russians are observing a day of mourning for the 89 victims of two plane crashes that took place Tuesday. Investigators said they have no evidence to suggest the crashes Tuesday were caused by terrorism. The planes took off from an airport in Moscow and disappeared within minutes of each other. There were no survivors. But federal investigators have found the flight information recorders from both planes. They are studying them to find out why the planes crashed. Officials have been preparing for violence before Sunday's presidential elections in Chechnya. Separatists in that area are blamed for carrying out a number of bombings in recent years. President Vladimir Putin has ordered increased security at all airports in Moscow. He has ordered the Interior Ministry to control security.

[2] A Shiite Muslim religious leader is urging Iraqis to march to the Shiite holy city of Najaf. Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani also said he has a plan for ending 3 weeks of fighting in the city. American and Iraqi forces have been battling militant supporters of a Shiite clergyman Moqtada al-Sadr. Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani returned to southern Iraq Wednesday from London. He said he would return to Najaf with demonstrators on Thursday in an effort to prevent a raid against the Imam Ali holy center. But he did not give details of his plan to end the crisis. Later, American military planes attacked militant targets in Najaf.

[3] Two Turkish companies say they are withdrawing their workers from Iraq after militants threatened to kill two employees who are being held hostage. Reports say the companies will meet the demands of kidnapers and close their offices in Iraq. The two hostages were seeing Wednesday in a video recording broadcast on Turkish television. In another development, Islamic militants say they have killed a man they claim was a spy for the United States Central Intelligence Agency in Iraq. The group said the apparent victim was an American citizen who was sent to Iraq as a spy. The group also released pictures of the killing. American intelligence officials did not comment on the militant's statement.

[4] In Pakistan, a special anti-terrorism court has sentenced 9 men to life in prison for killing 3 people in a bomb attack 2 years ago. The court found the men guilty of bombing Macedonia's honorary diplomatic office in Dec of 2002. The trial was held in the central prison in Karachi and lasted more than a year. The judge sentenced all 9 men to 2 terms of life in prison. The men reportedly belong to Harkatul Mujahideen al-Almi, a militant Islamic group. They also were blamed for other attacks.

[5] An Australian man appearing in military court in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba has said he is not guilty of the charges against him. The United States has charged David Hicks with plotting war crimes and aiding the enemy during the American-led war in Afghanistan. Mr. Hicks is the second of 4 people to be tried in a military court for suspected war crimes. They are accused of supporting Al-Qaida terrorists. It is the first time such military trials have taken place since world war two. Mr. Hicks could be sentenced to life in prison if he is found guilty of the charges.

You are listening to the news in VOA Special Egnlish.

[6] A London court has ordered 8 terrorism suspects held at least untill next week. The suspects include one man identified in the United States as a leading Al-Qaida Agent. The 8 are charged with plotting to murder and carry out attacks with explosives, chemicals or radioactive weapons. The court set Sep third for their next hearing. One of the men was found with plans showing major financial centers in Washington DC, New York City and New Jersey. Police believe he may be an Al-Qaida agent Known as Abu Eisa al-Hindi.

[7] Sudan says it will accept a larger African Union military force in the Darfur area. However the government said the troops must be used to increase securtiy and disarm rebel forces in Darfur. Government officials made the statement Wednesday during peace talks in Nigeria. However representatives from two rebel groups in Darfur said they will not disarm until Pro-government Arab militant groups are completely disarmed. The United Nations Human Rights groups and the United States have accused Sudan of supporting the militants. The militants are accused of human rights violations agaist thousands of black Sudanese in Darfur.

[8] United Nations officials say the identities of 90 percent of all legal voters in Afghanistan have been recorded successfully. Special diplomat to Afghanistan told the UN Security Council Wednesday that more than 4 million of the more than 10 million voters recorded are women. But Jean Arnault also warned that some groups will try to interfere with the election process in Oct. UN officials say members of the former Taliban government and members of the Al-Qaida terrorist organization have attacked many election workers.

[9] Israel has won its first event at the Olympic Games in Atherns, Greece. Gal Fridman won the men's windsurfing competition. He accepted his gold medal in honor of the 11 Israelies killed by terrorists at the 1972 Olympics in Munich, Germany. In other Olympic action, Kate Allen of Austria won a gold medal in the women's triathlon competition. The triathlon involes swimming, bicycle riding and running. And Fani Halkia of Greece has won the gold medal in Women's 400-meter hurdles.

And now briefly, here again is the major news of the hour read in VOA Special English.

Russians are observing a day of mourning for the 89 victims of two plane crashes that took place on Tuesday. A Shiite Muslim religious leader is urging Iraqis to march to the Shiite holy city of Najaf. And a special anti-terrorism court in Pakistan has sentenced 9 men to life in prison for killing 3 people in a bomb attack 2 years ago.

And that's the news in VOA Special English, from Washington, this is Jim Tedder reporting.
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