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Did al-Qaida warn of British attacks?

LONDON — “Those who cure you are going to kill you.”

That, a British priest said Wednesday, was the cryptic warning made to him in Jordan by a purported al-Qaida chief months before the failed car bombings in London and Glasgow that have been linked to a group of foreign Muslims working as doctors in Britain.

British authorities have said the attacks bore the hallmarks of an al-Qaida operation, but officials say investigators are still trying to determine whether there was any direct link between the alleged plotters and an outside mastermind.

Chinese toothpaste under new scrutiny

BEIJING — China is stepping up controls on dental care products, media reported Wednesday amid alarm over Chinese toothpaste producers’ use of a potentially toxic chemical.

Countries in North and South America, as well as Asia, have recently halted imports of Chinese-made toothpaste due to its content of diethylene glycol, a low-cost and sometimes deadly substitute for glycerin.

There have been no reports of health problems stemming from the product. China has no guideline banning the chemical, and the government says it is harmless in small amounts.

Japanese official promises trust

TOKYO — Japan’s first female defense minister was sworn in Wednesday, pledging to restore trust in the government after her predecessor suggested the bombings of Nagasaki and Hiroshima were inevitable.

Yuriko Koike took office a day after ex-Defense Minister Fumio Kyuma apologized for remarks that offended many who see the bombings as a senseless slaughter of civilians.

His departure was ill-timed, with Prime Minister Shinzo Abe facing parliamentary elections on July 29.

Top cleric captured at Pakistan mosque

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan — Security forces besieging a radical mosque in the Pakistani capital captured its top cleric Wednesday as he tried to sneak out of the complex in a burqa, and more than 1,000 of his followers surrendered.

But heavy gunfire raged into the night, and it was unclear if his capture would lead other hard-liners to give up the fight.

President Gen. Pervez Mush-arraf deployed the army to subdue the militants holed up at Lal Masjid, or Red Mosque, whose clerics have challenged the government for months with a drive to impose a Taliban-style version of Islamic law.

Spain says Basques planned attack

MADRID, Spain — Police seized a van packed with explosives in southeastern France, thwarting a Basque separatist attack that was clearly intended to cause casualties, Spain’s interior minister said Wednesday.

Alfredo Perez Rubalcaba said the group ETA, which has killed more than 800 people since 1968, was planning to stage the attack sometime during Spain’s state of the nation parliamentary debate Tuesday and Wednesday.

The location and target of the planned bombing were unknown, he said.

U.S. envoy finishes term with regrets

CARACAS, Venezuela — After three years as Washington’s top envoy to Venezuela, Ambassador William Brownfield ended his term Wednesday with regrets he could not do more to establish a dialogue.

Brownfield, who is taking over as ambassador to Colombia, attended a flag-raising ceremony at the U.S. Embassy in Caracas before he departed.

“I regret that I haven’t managed to establish a direct, serious, pragmatic dialogue between the two governments,” he said.

compiled from wire reports

Copyright 2005 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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