Rescue Nears For Miners Trapped Underground In Chile

Photo Courtesy -- Getty Images(COPIAPO, Chile) -- The 33 Chilean miners who have been trapped 2,300 feet underground in the Atacama desert since Aug. 5 may be rescued in a complex mission involving more than 100 workers by mid-October or sooner, according to government officials. 

"I hope we can rescue them before mid-October," said Chile President Sebastian Pinera.

The next milestone will be the “breakthrough” -- when one of the three huge drills reaches the depth at which the miners have been trapped.  ABC News has learned that this could come as soon as Thursday.  However, it is more likely to happen by the weekend.

Next, the shaft -- or parts of it -- will be lined with steel tubes to protect the men.  Then the shaft will be scanned with cameras to evaluate its stability.  Consequently, it could still be at least a couple of days after “breakthrough” before the specially-designed, 500 pound rescue capsule, known as the Pheonix, is lowered, and the actual rescues begun.

In the meantime, the miners have been exercising with Chilean Military Adviser Jean Christophe Romagnoli by remote control to avoid circulation troubles, improve lung capacity and avoid thorax damage.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio


French Police Arrest 12 in Separate Anti-Terror Operations

Photo Courtesy - ABC News(PARIS) -- French police have arrested three men on suspicions of aiding would-be terrorists and for an alleged link to an individual thought to be connected to al Qaeda.

According to local reports, the men are believed to be part of a logistical cell that offers accommodation and fake identification to those attempting to enter the country after training in the areas of Afghanistan or Pakistan.

A man police believe to be the cell's leader was arrested this week in Italy.

In a separate operation, French police arrested a woman and eight men on suspicions of arms and explosives trafficking. The arrests follow a nine-month investigation by French anti-terrorism police.

The two sweeps are not believed to be connected. All 12 arrests were confirmed to ABC News by the French prosecutor’s office.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio


Video Shows Israeli Soldier Dancing Around Blindfolded Palestinian Woman

Photo Courtesy - ABC News(JERUSALEM) -- The Israeli army is investigating a video posted on YouTube featuring a male soldier performing a belly dancing routine beside a blindfolded female Palestinian prisoner.

The clip has apparently been on the site for two years, but was aired on Israeli Television Monday night.

It is the latest embarrassing clip of this kind to cause controversy and force the army onto the defensive, but this would be the first to target a Palestinian woman, a particularly inflammatory issue in Arab society.

The Israeli Defense Force said Tuesday it had launched an investigation into the incident.

"The IDF condemns this kind of activity and has worked and is working to eradicate it via briefings to soldiers....The clips do not depict the norm, but rather are anomalies," said an IDF statement.

The Palestinian Authority condemned the video.

"This is a disgusting illustration of the sick mentality of the occupier. This is not an isolated incident. With the advent of easy-to-use media like YouTube, the truth is coming to light of a culture of humiliation of the Palestinians," the Palestinian Authority statement said.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio


Israeli Army: 'We May Use Facebook To Update Public During Next Year'

Photo Courtesy -- -- The Home Front Command, an Israel Defense Forces regional command, plans to build software that will allow them the ability to use Facebook to keep Israeli civilians informed during wartime, according to the Israeli Haaretz Newspaper.

Colonel Dr. Hilik Sofer, who heads the Home Front Command's population department, tells Haaretz that a final decision has not yet been made.

Sofer said that until now, Home Front Command has utilized television and radio as a means to communicate information to Israelis, but it recognizes the significance of Facebook.

Haaretz Newspaper reports that the Command plans to create a page on Facebook that can update the public in both peaceful times and for emergencies.  

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio


Palestinian Mosque Burned In Suspected Arson Attack

Photo Courtesy -- Getty Images(PALESTINE) -- A suspected arson attack early Monday caused damage to the walls and carpets of a Palestinian mosque in the West Bank region of Palestine. Palestinians have accused settlers of torching the mosque overnight in Beit Fajjar, near the large settlement block of Gush Etzion.

Israeli military say they are urgently investigating the case.

Graffiti suggesting that this was the latest so-called “price tag” attack by settlers was found on the mosque’s wall.  Extremist settlers have been carrying out similar attacks to set a "price" on Israeli actions against illegal outposts and other curbs on settlement construction.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio


Contract Awarded For New Embassy Compound Construction In Pakistan

Photo Courtesy -- -- The U.S. Department of State announced Monday a $699 million contract for the construction of a New Embassy Compound in Islamabad, Pakistan.

The project, to be completed in several phases, will provide modern advancements to accommodate more staff and enhanced security features and will consist of a new office building, office annex, marine security guard quarters, perimeter wall, support annex and general services office and permanent housing. 

The State Department said it will be a "state-of-the-art platform from which to continue our partnership with the Government of Pakistan in pursuing our common policy objectives."

The New Embassy Compound will be built on the current 35-acre embassy site and is expected to be completed in 2016.

Copyright ABC News Radio


Census of Marine Life: 10-Year Project Surveys World's Oceans

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(LONDON) -- How many fish are there in the sea? Scientists would not dare guess, but they estimate, in the first-ever Census of Marine Life announced Monday, that there are at least 250,000 known species in the world's oceans, from the tiniest single-celled creatures to the most massive blue whales.

It took a decade of work, with 2,700 scientists from 80 countries spending 9,000 days at sea on 540 separate expeditions. Their work was financed by foundations, universities and the governments of the researchers.

The purpose of the census was to establish a baseline -- a cross-section of marine life worldwide -- so that as things change, scientists will not have to speculate just how. Future scientists doing research on climate change, pollution, or shifts in the composition or acidity of sea water in particular parts of the world will have an idea of what lived there back in 2010.

On the way to assembling their database, the researchers came back with remarkable pictures of just a few of the 120,000 species they directly studied. Even after all the work that went into the census, the organizers say another 750,000 species may still be not be catalogued.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio


Prominent Kenyan Polygamist Dies

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(NAIROBI, Kenya) -- Kenya's most prominent polygamist has died, leaving behind more than 100 wives and dozens more children.

Nicknamed "Danger" for his physical appearance and ability to attract many partners, Ancentus Akuku became a polygamist in his early twenties. There is no known age for Akuku, although various reports specify he was in his 90s.

Akuku established two elementary schools to educate his many children and extended family members.

After collapsing at his home Sunday, he was pronounced dead upon arrival at a local hospital, according to reports.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio


Airport Lobbies Possible Terror Targets in European Plot, Official Says

Image Courtesy - ABC News(WASHINGTON) -- Pakistani intelligence officials say that a drone strike inside Pakistan has killed eight German nationals in the Waziristan region of Pakistan. US officials could not immediately confirm the report.

The strike comes a day after the State Department issued a travel advisory for Americans traveling to Europe because of the potential threat of Mumbai-style commando attacks on civilians, possibly by terrorists of German origin based in Waziristan. Authorities learned of the possible plot this summer from a German national who had been training for jihad in Pakistan and was captured in Afghanistan.

In an interview Sunday, Pakistan's Ambassador Husain Haqqani told ABC News that the plot's leaders had been identified and targeted.

"I think that several people who were involved in the plotting have been targeted, and the others are certainly on the radar of U.S., Pakistani and European intelligence services," Haqqani said.

The suspected German militants killed Monday in Waziristan reportedly belonged to a group called Jehad al Islami.

Among the possible targets in the suspected European terror plot are pre-security areas in at least five major European airports, a law enforcement official told ABC News. Authorities believe terror teams are preparing to mount a commando like attack featuring small units and small firearms modeled after the Mumbai attack two years ago.

The State Department issued a highly unusual "Travel Alert" Sunday for "potential terrorist attacks in Europe," saying U.S. citizens are "reminded of the potential for terrorists to attack public transportation systems and other tourist infrastructure."

One scenario authorities fear is a repeat of the 1985 attack on the Rome and Vienna airports, when Palestinian extremists threw grenades and opened fire on travelers waiting at ticket counters injuring 140 and killing 19, including a small child.

A curfew was ordered this weekend at Ramstein U.S. Air Force Base in Germany, with soldiers told to remain at home and not to wear uniforms off base "in response to a threat condition," a Ramstein spokesperson said. The U.S. European Command (EUCOM) commented, "With the increased reports of terror activity throughout Europe, the US and its allies are working to ensure the safety and security throughout the region. The US and partner nations are working to investigate and prevent possible terror threats."

But despite public alerts, there are still concerns the terror group may go ahead with attacks.

"If they believe they can pull it off, I think there's every reason to believe they may go ahead and try it," former FBI agent Brad Garrett, now an ABC News consultant. "These plans go together at a particular point in time, and it may be perhaps that they are at a juncture with people, equipment and locations that they need to do it now."

U.S. Homeland Security Issues Terror Bulletin

ABC News reporters checking European airports over the weekend reported no obvious signs of heightened security, but authorities said such steps would not necessarily be visible.

The U.K. upgraded its terrorism warning to "high" from "general" for France and Germany but would not comment on specifics.

The Department of Homeland Security and the FBI sent a bulletin to local U.S. law enforcement agencies Sunday morning, saying there was currently no information about specific threats to U.S. targets, but they are monitoring recent terrorist threat reports regarding Europe and would continue to "assess."

The bulletin noted al Qaeda affiliates and those who "follow their ideology" may inspire those with "the ability to access the U.S. legally" and expressed concerns about possible attacks using "small arms, lone shooters and small unit tactics."

Federal authorities urged localities to raise general security awareness, including training private security staff to take note of individuals "loitering for no apparent reason, sketching or pace counting."

In a phone conference with reporters Sunday, State Department officials took pains not to discourage travel to Europe with the alert and gave few concrete steps to take.

"Use common sense," said State Department Undersecretary Patrick Kennedy. "If [tourists] see unattended packages or hear loud noises, quickly move away from them."

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio


Man Arrested in Paris Train Station Bomb Threat

Photo Courtesy - Jacques Demarthon/AFP/Getty Images(PARIS) -- A man suspected of making a bomb threat at the Gare Saint-Lazare train station in Paris, France has been arrested.  As confirmed to ABC News by the Paris prosecutor's office, the man, in his 50s, was arrested Monday morning west of Paris in the town of Meudon.  He is being questioned by French police, and could possibly be involved in other bomb threats.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio

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