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Qaeda embassy plan prompts terror alert

TEGUCIGALPA -- Honduras tightened security at foreign embassies and declared a national terror alert after receiving information that Al Qaeda was trying to recruit Hondurans to attack embassies of the United States, Britain, Spain, and El Salvador, a government official said yesterday. The heightened security was instituted Thursday, after Honduras's intelligence services received reports of a plan allegedly targeting those countries' embassies here and abroad, Security Minister Oscar Alvarez said. "We are facing a state of preventative national alert because our intelligence services report that Al Qaeda foreigners have made offers for Hondurans to carry out sabotage both here and abroad," Alvarez said at a news conference. (AP)

Sudan

Darfur paramilitary forces to be reduced

KHARTOUM -- In a good-will gesture on the eve of peace talks, Sudan said yesterday it would reduce paramilitary forces in Darfur by 30 percent to try to ease tensions in the western region, where an 18-month conflict has killed an estimated 30,000 people. The reduction of the volunteer force was ordered to build confidence ahead of African Union-sponsored peace talks starting today in Nigeria between government officials and two African rebel groups, said Sudan's state minister for interior affairs, Ahmed Mohamed Haroon. Also, President Olusegun Obasanjo of Nigeria, who also is chairman of the AU, said the organization should work with the Sudanese government to disarm the rebels. (AP)

Russia

Putin visits Chechnya in surprise overture

VLADIKAVKAZ -- President Vladimir Putin of Russia placed flowers at the grave of Chechnya's assassinated president yesterday during a surprise visit aimed at boosting the Kremlin's favorite in upcoming elections in the war-torn region. Putin's brief visit followed a night of bloody fighting in the Chechen capital that underlined the violence and chaos that persists ahead of next week's presidential ballot. Putin arrived early in the morning in Tsentoroi, home village of Akhmad Kadyrov, slain Chechen president, and placed red carnations at his grave. In televised footage, he stood with Kadyrov's son Ramzan and Chechen Interior Minister Alu Alkhanov, who has met with Putin repeatedly since he emerged as the Kremlin favorite in the Aug. 29 vote. (AP)

Venezuela

Don't fear 'revolution,' Chavez tells opponents

CARACAS -- President Hugo Chavez of Venezuela told his opponents yesterday they should not fear his left-wing "revolution" after his referendum win, and he pledged to respect private wealth and fight corruption. In a television broadcast one week after he easily won a recall poll, the populist leader sought to dispel fears among rich and middle-class Venezuelans that he planned to launch a fresh offensive against their status and property. "What we want is national unity . . . this revolution should not frighten anybody," Chavez said during his weekly "Hello President" television and radio show. (Reuters)

Pakistan

Terror network said to be infiltrated

ISLAMABAD -- Security forces hunted for more terror suspects, officials said yesterday, as Pakistan disclosed it has arrested a dozen Al Qaeda-linked militants planning to launch simultaneous suicide attacks on government leaders and the US Embassy. Officials said the plot could have killed hundreds of people, underscoring the deadly stakes in President Pervez Musharraf's aggressive push to defeat violent extremists enraged by his support of the US-led war on terrorism. "We have infiltrated their network and that is why we have made these arrests," Interior Minister Faisal Saleh Hayyat said. "They wanted to destabilize Pakistan, they wanted to create unrest, and they wanted to weaken this government." (AP)

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