BERLIN (AP) -- Five men who barricaded themselves inside the Iraqi Embassy and took Baghdad's acting ambassador and other diplomats hostage are believed to be Iraqis and had all applied in the past for asylum in Germany, authorities said Wednesday.
A previously unknown Iraqi dissident group seeking the ouster of Saddam Hussein said the hostage takers were its members. German commandos stormed the building Tuesday evening, ending the five-hour standoff, after trying 20 times in vain to contact the hostage takers by telephone.
Iraq's acting ambassador and his designated successor, who had been tied up, were freed uninjured.
Hebrew University handyman arrested in bomb blast that killed five Americans
JERUSALEM (AP) -- A Palestinian house painter employed by Jerusalem's Hebrew University has been arrested on suspicion he planted a bomb at the student cafeteria that killed nine people, including five Americans, last month, security officials said Wednesday.
The suspect was part of a 15-member cell run by the Islamic militant group Hamas, the officials said. Five members of the cell have been arrested, including four Palestinian residents of Jerusalem.
Israelis approve smallpox vaccinations
JERUSALEM (AP) -- Israel decided Wednesday to give smallpox vaccines to more than 15,000 security and rescue officials, expanding an inoculation program to protect its people in case of an Iraqi attack with chemical or biological weapons.
The Cabinet decision is part of Israel's overall preparation for a possible U.S. attack on Iraq which, in turn, could trigger an Iraqi strike against Israel. Iraq has biological and chemical weapons, in addition to missiles with conventional warheads.
Missile launcher found near crash site
MOSCOW (AP) -- A top prosecutor said Wednesday that investigators have found part of an anti-aircraft missile launcher near the site where a military helicopter crashed in Chechnya, killing 115 people and injuring 32.
The discovery bolstered rebel claims that they shot down the aircraft. If true, Monday's crash would be the Russian military's worst single-day loss to the rebels since first rolling into the region more than eight years ago to battle separatists.
On Tuesday, Prosecutor General Vladimir Ustinov said that investigators considered it most likely that the huge Mi-26 helicopter was brought down by ground fire.
Blast rips Moscow apartment building
MOSCOW (AP) -- An explosion tore through a residential building in Moscow, blowing open a 50-foot-wide section and collapsing five stories of apartments. At least seven people were killed, and as many as five others were feared trapped in the rubble.
Authorities said the explosion on Tuesday night was likely caused by a natural gas leak, not a bomb, but it evoked memories of apartment bombings in 1999 that were blamed on Chechen guerrillas.
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