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【整理】SENEWS-2004-0824-2330

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

[1] Russian news reports say 2 airplanes have crashed almost at the same time. Reports say one plane was carrying 42 people, It crashed near a village in the Tula area. The area is about 200 kilometers south of Moscow. People in the area say they saw an explosion before the crash. A second Russian airplane carrying 44 people crashed almost at the same time Tuesday. The crash was about 140 kilometers from the southern city of Rostov-on-Don. The plane reportedly was flying from Moscow to the Black Sea town of Sochi. There is no immediate report about survivors of both plane crashes.

[2] American and Iraqi forces continue to surround an Islamic holy center in Najaf, Iraq. Fighters loyal to Shiite clergyman Muqtada al-Sadr have been hiding in the Imam Ali shrine for 20 days. Iraqi National Guardsmen are a few hundred meters from the center. American soldiers have clashed with fighters near Najaf's huge burial ground. Iraq's defense minister urged the militants to surrender within hours. Assistants to Muqtada al-Sadr said they were willing to again negotiate an end to the fighting. In Baghdad Tuesday, fighters attacked vehicles carrying 2 ministers of Iraq's temporary government. The officials were not hurt, but 5 guards and a bomber were killed.

[3] Islamic militants in Iraq say they may harm an Italian news reporter if Italy does not withdraw its troops from Iraq within 48 hours. But the Italian government says its 3,000 soldiers will stay in Iraq. Italian officials say they have not heard from Enzo Baldoni since he was traveling to Najaf last week. Another militant group says it has kidnapped a Jordanian and a Kenyan national. The statement was published on the internet. In Jordan, the Foreign Ministry said the family of the Jordanian told the government he is missing in Iraq. In Kenya, officials are investigating the militants' statement. Also in Iraq, the kidnappers of a Lebanese man announced his release Tuesday, he was held for more than a week.

[4] Police in Bangladesh say more than 25 people have been injured in violence at the start of a 2-day nationwide strike. Opposition protesters fought with police and attacked train stations in several parts of the country Tuesday. The strike began with thousands of people marching in the capital, Dhaka. The opposition Awami League called the strike to protest a deadly bomb attack Saturday at a political gathering in Dhaka. The party said the bombing was an effort to kill its leader, former Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina. The attack killed 20 people and injured about 150 others including the former prime minister.

You are listening to the news in VOA Special English.

[5] Peace talks between Sudanese rebel groups and the government have been suspended. The talks are designed to end fighting in the Darfur area of western Sudan. The meeting took place in the Nigerian capital, Abuja. The rebels rejected some proposed ways to end the fighting in Darfur. Delegates say rebel negotiators rejected the idea of keeping rebel troops in certain areas as a step toward disarmament. The talks are expected to continue on Wednesday. The African Union organized the meeting. British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw was in Khartoum Tuesday to meet with Sudanese President Omar el-Bashir. No details were given about the meeting.

[6] A court in the capital of Uzbekistan has sentenced 15 Islamic militants to long prison terms for their part in deadly bombings earlier this year. The attacks in March and April killed 47 people. The militants received sentences between six and eighteen years. During the trial Tuesday, there were three bomb explosions in the Uzbek capital Tashkent. Seven people were killed including the attackers. Police say the bombers were linked to the same Islamic group that was responsible for the violence earlier this year in Uzbekistan.

[7] An American military court in Guantanamo Bay has charged a Yemeni man with plotting to carry out murder and terrorism. Government lawyers said Salim Ahmed Hamdan was a driver for al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden. The lawyers say the suspect also helped transport weapons for terrorists. Mr. Hamdan admits he worked for Osama Bin Laden, but he denied any involvement with terrorist activity. Mr. Hamdan is the first prisoner held at Guantanamo Bay to be tried by an American court.

[8] A new report blames American Defense Department leaders for the poor treatment of prisoners at the Abu Ghraib prison near Baghdad. Former Defense Secretary James Schlesinger presented the report's findings at a press conference in Washington D. C. on Tuesday. Mr. Schlesinger said the poor treatment could have been prevented if there had been better training and leadership. The United States Army is expected to release results of a separate investigation into the treatment of Iraqi prisoners later this week.

[9] The United States has increased its lead over China in total medals won on the 11th day of the Summer Olympics in Athens, Greece. American sportsmen and women won 6 more medals on Tuesday. The United States now has 71 medals. China has won 51 medals, the second highest number in the world games. Kenyan runners won all three medals in the 3, 000-meter steeplechase race. Also Tuesday the men's discus champion Robert Fazekas of Hungary lost his gold medal because he refused to take a complete drug test.

And now briefly, here again is the major news of the hour.
Russian news reports say 2 airplanes have crashed almost at the same time. Both planes together were carrying 86 people. American and Iraqi forces continue to surround an Islamic holy center in Najaf, Iraq. And police in Bangladesh say more than 25 people have been injured in violence at the start of a 2-day nationwide strike.

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