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U.S. aid worker kidnapped

Sun., Jan. 27, 2008

Gunmen kidnapped a burqa-clad American aid worker and her driver in southern Afghanistan’s largest city early Saturday, the latest in a series of kidnappings of foreigners in the troubled country.

Cyd Mizell, who worked in Kandahar for the Asian Rural Life Development Foundation, was snatched from a residential neighborhood as she was on her way to work. Jeff Palmer, the aid group’s international director, said the group had not been contacted by the kidnappers and that he did not know their identity or demands.

Several foreigners – including 23 South Koreans, two German construction workers and two Italian journalists – have been kidnapped in Afghanistan in the last year, but kidnappings of Americans are rare.

A professor at Kandahar University, Mohammad Gul, said Mizell, 49, taught English at the university and gave embroidery lessons at a girl’s school.

Rafah, Egypt

Egypt works to block Palestinians

The Egyptian government Saturday abandoned its sporadic efforts to seal off the Gaza Strip but tightened a cordon around this border city, restricting the availability of goods in order to dissuade others from flocking here to shop.

Police used armored personnel carriers to block roads leading deeper into Egypt from Rafah and turned back hundreds of Palestinians. Authorities instructed hoteliers in El Arish, 25 miles southwest of here, not to lodge Palestinian travelers. Some shops were ordered to close early.

Tens of thousands of Palestinians from Gaza poured into Egypt for a fourth day to stock up on goods that have been scarce back home because of a months-old blockade imposed by Israel to retaliate against near-daily rocket fire by Palestinian militants from the coastal enclave.

Ocala, Fla.

Five die after car runs off cliff

A car speeding down a private airport runway ran off an embankment and was airborne for 200 feet before smashing into a tree early Saturday, killing all five young men in the vehicle, the Florida Highway Patrol said.

Investigators did not know whether the BMW was alone or was racing another car on the air strip at the exclusive “fly-in” community of Jumbolair Aviation Estates, where pilot-actor John Travolta has a home.

Las Vegas

Casino closed until facade work done

The burned exterior facade along the roof of the Monte Carlo hotel-casino will have to be removed or secured before the Las Vegas Strip resort can reopen, the chief county building inspector said Saturday.

Ron Lynn, chief of the Clark County Building Department, said the 32-story building will remain closed until resort owner MGM Mirage Inc. completes work to the roofline foam building material damaged in Friday’s blaze.

A spokesman for the casino company said he could not immediately say how long that would take.

Lynn and an assistant Clark County fire chief, Sandra Baker, said most fire damage was to the exterior of the top five floors of the 3,213-room hotel. The roof was not damaged, they said, declining to estimate repair costs.

The cause of the three-alarm blaze remained under investigation, Baker said.

Officials said Friday that welders were on the roof, where Lynn said the hotel had a permit to install window washing gear. Baker said she did not know what role, if any, workers may have played in starting the blaze.


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