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Sunday, January 22

Editor's Note: The CNN Wire is a running log of the latest news from CNN World Headquarters, reported by CNN's correspondents, producers and Wires.CNN editors.

'She is not your enemy,' abducted journalist's father tells captors

(CNN) -- The father of Jill Carroll, the American journalist abducted in Iraq, called on his daughter's captors to release her Sunday night, telling them, "She is not your enemy."

"Jill started to tell your story, so please, let her finish it," Jim Carroll said in a statement he read on CNN. "Through the media, if necessary, advise her family and me of how we might initiate a dialogue that will lead to her release."

Carroll was taken hostage Jan. 7 by militants who threatened to kill her unless U.S. troops freed all Iraqi women prisoners in their custody. Tuesday, her captors issued a 72-hour deadline to comply with their demands, and there has been no word of her fate since then.

Survey: gas prices up 3 cents in 2 weeks

(CNN) -- Gas prices rose more than 3 cents per gallon over the past two weeks, to a national average of $2.33, a survey of U.S. filling stations found Sunday.

That's a nearly 20-cent-per-gallon increase in the price of gasoline since Dec. 2, according to the Lundberg Survey, which tallied prices Jan. 20 and Jan. 6 at about 7,000 stations in all 50 states.

Further price rises over the short-term are likely, survey publisher Trilby Lundberg said. (posted 4:26 p.m.)

Former California congressman McCloskey to attempt comeback at 78

LODI, Calif. (CNN) -- Former U.S. Rep. Pete McCloskey, a maverick Republican who once challenged Richard Nixon with a Vietnam-era anti-war platform, will attempt a political comeback by running to unseat a senior GOP congressman, his campaign manager said Sunday.

McCloskey, who represented a San Francisco-area district from 1967 to 1983, is slated to announce a primary challenge to U.S. Rep. Richard Pombo on Monday, campaign co-manager Lewis Butler told CNN. (posted 4:25 p.m.)

At least 36 rejected police recruits found dead

BAGHDAD (CNN) -- The bodies of at least 36 of 50 applicants for the Baghdad Police Academy who were abducted last week north of Baghdad have been found in recent days, an official with the Falaheddin Joint Coordination Center said Sunday.

The men -- all from the town of Samarra, about 110 km (68 miles) north of Baghdad -- were abducted last Monday at an insurgent checkpoint about 50 km (31 miles) north of Baghdad as they attempted to return home, the official added. (Posted 2:18 p.m.)

Bolivia's first Indian president sworn in

LA PAZ, Bolivia (CNN) -- With one hand on his heart and the other in a fist raised above his head, Evo Morales was sworn in Sunday as Bolivia's first indigenous president.

Morales, an Aymara Indian leader and coca grower, has promised to increase state control of Bolivia's natural resources -- including a vast natural gas field -- and to decrease poverty in South America's poorest country. (Posted 2:17 p.m.)

Diplomat: Former members of Hussein's regime to testify

BAGHDAD (CNN) -- Former members of Saddam Hussein's regime will appear as witnesses this week when the trial against Iraq's long-time leader and seven other defendants resumes Tuesday, according to a Western diplomat in Baghdad.

The diplomat did not rule out the possibility that one former member of Hussein's regime who is currently in U.S. custody may emerge as a witness. Hussein and his co-defendants are charged with ordering the 1982 massacre of 142 Shiite men in the village of Dujail, following an assassination attempt against Hussein.

It is unclear who will preside over the trial, following the resignation of former chief judge Rizgar Amin more than a week ago. (posted 1:26 p.m.)

Pakistan ridicules as 'bizarre' U.S. explanation for attack on civilians

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- Pakistani Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz Sunday ridiculed as "bizarre" U.S. claims that senior al Qaeda leaders were killed in last week's CIA attack on a dinner party at a home in Damadola along the border with Afghanistan.

"There is no evidence, as of half an hour ago, that there were any other people there," Aziz told CNN's "Late Edition with Wolf Blitzer." "The area does see movement of people from across the border. But we have not found one body or one shred of evidence that these people were there."

U.S. officials have said they believe those killed in the attack included four to eight al Qaeda members who were attending a dinner meeting, and that their bodies were spirited from the scene by comrades. (posted 1:18 p.m.)

Sharon still in critical but stable condition

JERUSALEM (CNN) -- Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon remains in critical but stable condition Sunday, according to a statement from Hadassah hospital, where he has been treated since suffering a massive stroke on Jan. 4.

He is still in a coma. The hospital said a CT scan on the prime minister showed no changes. (posted 12:26 p.m.)

Hikers rescued from Utah mountain after night on the slope

(CNN) -- Salt Lake search and rescue teams airlifted four hikers from 9,000-foot Mount Olympus southeast of Salt Lake City Sunday morning after they'd spent the night on the snow-covered peak.

Lt. John Fassett, Salt Lake County Sheriff's Department spokesman, said three of the four were off the mountain, and video from the scene showed the airlift of the fourth. (posted 12:25 p.m.)

Kerry assails 'incompetent' administration

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- Sen. John Kerry took up top GOP political strategist Karl Rove's call to make national security a central issue in the 2006 mid-term elections Sunday, vowing, "I want to have that debate every single day."

The Massachusetts Democrat who lost to Bush in the 2004 presidential election argued Republicans are vulnerable to a Democratic resurgence in Congress, partly because Hurricane Katrina "stripped away the veneer of competence" of the Bush administration.

Kerry's comments to ABC's "This Week" came two days after Rove -- whom President Bush called the "architect" of his 2004 victory -- told a group of fellow Republicans that Democrats are "wrong" on national security, and that that argument should be repeated throughout the 2006 election cycle. (posted 12:24 p.m.)

House Intel chairman: Bin Laden tape shouldn't signal threat level rise

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- The threats in last week's audiotape from terror leader Osama bin Laden should be taken seriously, but the tape itself isn't a signal to raise the threat level in the United States, the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee said Sunday.

Rep. Peter Hoekstra, R-Mich., told ABC's "This Week" that the message from the al Qaeda founder indicates a need "to be on a full offensive, which we are, on a global basis."

"You know, this guy is dangerous," he said. "I think we should consider raising the threat level, but we shouldn't do it just because we've gotten a tape from Osama bin Laden.

Rep. Jane Harman of California, the ranking Democrat on the committee, agreed, noting that "copycat cells" of terrorists were just as capable of attacks as al Qaeda. (posted 12:23 p.m.)

1 dead in explosion in Gaza City; Israeli airstrike kills 1 near Gaza-Israel border

GAZA CITY (CNN) -- An explosion in east Gaza City Sunday killed one person and wounded three more, Palestinian security sources told CNN.

Witnesses said Israeli warplanes fired two missiles on the car.

The Israeli army said it was not involved in a strike in Gaza City but did fire missiles at three armed Palestinians it saw approaching the fence around Gaza near the Karni Crossing, striking one. There was no further information available about either incident. (posted 12:21 p.m.)

Gas, electricity cut to Georgia after explosions strike pipelines, power line

MOSCOW (CNN) -- Georgia's president Sunday questioned the timing of explosions in Russia that cut off electricity and natural gas service to his country in the middle of one of the coldest winters on record in the Caucasus nation.

Russia is investigating the explosions as a criminal act, according to Viktor Beltsov, a spokesman for the Emergency Situations Ministry. But Georgian President Mikhail Saakashvili stopped short of accusing Russia of orchestrating the blasts.

"They hit us at exactly the right moment," he told CNN. "I'm not accusing anybody. I'm just asking questions. It looks dubious at the very least."

Saakashvili said Russian officials have tendered veiled threats in the past, and given the natural gas crisis created in Ukraine earlier this month when Russia temporarily shut off the flow, the president said it "just looks fishy." (posted 12:20 p.m.)

Iran calls emergency IAEA meeting 'a political move'

TEHRAN (CNN) -- The upcoming emergency session by the governing board of the International Atomic Energy Agency is "unnecessary and a political move," the spokesman for Iran's foreign ministry said Sunday.

Representatives of the five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council met last week and called for the emergency meeting after Iran broke IAEA seals on its Natanz uranium enrichment plant to resume what Tehran says is nuclear research. (posted 12:19 p.m.)

Baghdad car bomb wounds 5

BAGHDAD (CNN) -- A car bomb Sunday in southwest Baghdad targeted an Iraqi police patrol, wounding two police officers and three civilians, Iraqi police said.

The explosion took place at about 4:15 p.m. local time (8:15 a.m. ET), police said. (posted 12:18 p.m.)

Army interrogator convicted of negligent homicide in Iraqi general's death

(CNN) -- An Army interrogator was convicted Saturday of negligent homicide and negligent dereliction of duty in connection with the death of an Iraqi general at a detention camp.

Six military jurors, however, rejected the more severe charge of murder, which could have resulted in a life prison sentence for Chief Warrant Officer Lewis Welshofer Jr., according to Army Public Affairs spokeswoman Judy Dutt.

Welshofer, 43, was accused of putting a sleeping bag over the head of Iraqi Maj. Gen. Abed Hamed Mowhoush, sitting on his chest and covering Mowhoush's mouth with his hand while interrogating him in November 2003.

A surgeon initially said Mowhoush died of natural causes, but a death certificate released months later by the Pentagon called the death a homicide by asphyxia. Jurors acquitted Welshofer of assault, Dutt said. (posted 12:16 p.m.)

Funeral for Rugova to be held Thursday

(CNN) -- Funeral services for Kosovo President Ibrahim Rugova, who died Saturday at age 61, are scheduled for Thursday, according to Dzezair Murati, the leader of the DSS political party.

Rugova, a literary scholar turned politician who was the symbol of the fight for Kosovar self-rule, has been diagnosed with lung cancer last year. He died in the Kosovo city of Pristina.

A region of Serbia and Montenegro, Kosovo has been a cauldron of tension between the majority ethnic Albanian population and a minority population of ethnic Serbs. The United Nations has administered the region since NATO forces ousted Serb-led Yugoslav troops in 1999.

Long before most outsiders even knew the province existed, Rugova was agitating non-violently for Kosovo self-rule, squaring off against the Serb-dominated Yugoslav regime, led by Slobodan Milosevic -- now on trial at the Hague for war crimes during the Balkan wars last decade. A slight figure in spectacles and a trademark scarf, Rugova testified in 2002 in Milosevic's war crimes trial and recounted the fact that he got into political life in the late 1980s. (Posted 6:49 a.m.)

Gas, electricity cut to Georgia after explosions strike pipelines, power line

MOSCOW (CNN) -- Electricity and natural gas service to Georgia was cut off Sunday after explosions struck a gas pipeline as well as a high-voltage electric power line in Russia, according to an emergency official and Russia's Interfax news agency.

Given the recent record-breaking cold in the region, the loss of power and gas could be a hazard for residents, particularly the elderly. Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili demanded the resumption of gas and electricity "as a matter of urgency," the Russian news agency Interfax reported. Gas service to Armenia was also severed by the gas pipeline blast, said Viktor Beltsov, a spokesman for Russia's Emergency Situations Ministry.

Two blasts struck the pipeline in the North Ossetia region near the Georgian border. The first, he said, was at 2:30 a.m. Sunday and the second 20 minutes later. The blasts are the result of a criminal act, Beltsov said. About nine hours after the gas pipeline blasts, a pylon carrying a high-voltage electric power line supplying electricity to Georgia was blown up outside Karachayevsk in Russia's internal republic of Karacheyevo-Cherkessia, Interfax reported. (Updated 7:17 a.m.)

15 rebels, 6 soldiers killed in confrontation

KATHMANDU, Nepal (CNN) -- Fifteen Maoist rebels and six Nepalese soldiers died in an armed confrontation that occurred in a remote area south of Kathmandu, according to the United Defense Forces.

The Royal Nepalese Army reportedly used night-vision helicopters for bombings on the ground during the clash about 100 kilometers (62 miles) south of Kathmandu. Details of the incident remained sketchy.

On Saturday, more than 200 pro-democracy activists were arrested across the country as they organized rallies protesting the absolute rule of King Gyanendra. The king took absolute control of the country in February, suspending Parliament and sacking the government, citing a Maoist threat as justification. He has promised to restore multi-party democracy and basic civil and human rights, but he is under international pressure to move quickly. --Journalist C.K. Lal contributed to this report. (Posted 5:13 a.m.)

Red Cross helicopter with 7 aboard missing in Pakistan

(CNN) -- Searches were underway Sunday along the Pakistan-Afghanistan border for a missing helicopter with seven people aboard, being used by the Red Cross to deliver aid to earthquake survivors in Pakistan, the organization said.

The chartered helicopter went missing Saturday as it was headed to Turkmenistan from Peshawar, Pakistan, after its seven crew members had finished their relief work, said Marco Jiminez, spokesman for the International Committee of the Red Cross.

Asked about the possibility of foul play, Jiminez said, "for the moment, we don't have a reason to believe that's the case." The terrain is mountainous, he noted, and weather conditions were poor, with high winds. "We are expecting that there are other reasons for the helicopter to be missing at the moment." --CNNRadio's Raul Bali contributed to this report. (Posted 5:01 a.m.)

Army officer convicted of negligent homicide in Iraqi general's death

(CNN) -- An Army officer was convicted Saturday of negligent homicide and negligent dereliction of duty in connection with the death of an Iraqi general at a detention camp.

Six military jurors, however, rejected the more severe charge of murder, which could have resulted in a life prison sentence for Chief Warrant Officer Lewis Welshofer Jr., according to Army Public Affairs spokeswoman Judy Dutt.

Welshofer, 43, was accused of putting a sleeping bag over the head of Iraqi Maj. Gen. Abed Hamed Mowhoush, sitting on his chest and covering Mowhoush's mouth with his hand while interrogating him in November 2003. A surgeon initially said Mowhoush died of natural causes, but a death certificate released months later by the Pentagon called the death a homicide by asphyxia.

He faces a dishonorable discharge and up to three years in prison for negligent homicide, along with three months for negligent dereliction of duty. Sentencing was set for Monday in Fort Collins, Colo. Mowhoush was a major general in the former Iraqi Army's Air Defense branch and a former high-ranking air defense commander linked to Saddam Hussein. He was arrested by U.S. troops in an October 2003 raid. --CNNRadio's Shelby Lin contributed to this report. (Posted 5:01 a.m.)

9 people, including 4 children, killed in Iraqi violence

BAGHDAD (CNN) -- Nine people, including four children and four Iraqi police officers, were killed early Sunday in two separate incidents in the country's volatile Diyala province, according to an official with the Diyala Joint Communications Center.

The children died in a 12:20 a.m. (4:20 p.m. Saturday ET) rocket attack on the Balad Ruz home of an Iraqi police officer, the official said. The officer was not home at the time, but the rockets struck the home and killed the officer's brother and the children, two boys and two girls aged 6 to 11. The brother's wife was wounded.

The four police officers died when a roadside bomb targeting their patrol exploded about 3:50 a.m. in Tahrir Square in central Baquba, the official said. Nine police officers were wounded.

Saturday, a roadside bomb wounded three civilians about 8:30 p.m. in central Baquba. --CNN Producer Mohammed Tawfeeq contributed to this report. (Posted 3:22 a.m.)

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