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Saturday, February 18

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

No word from military on fate of 10 Marines

(CNN) -- There was no public word late Saturday on the fate of 10 Marines aboard two transport helicopters that crashed off the coast of Djibouti in northeastern Africa. Two crew members were rescued.

The military said Saturday it had "accounted for" all 12 people, without saying whether the 10 Marines survived. The military said no news would be released until all next-of-kin were notified.

The CH-53E helicopters crashed Friday over the Gulf of Aden while on a two-hour training mission in the Godoria Range area in northern Djibouti. Djibouti is near the Horn of Africa. The United States operates a military base at Camp Lemonier, where the Combined Joint Task Force-Horn of Africa is based. (Posted 10 p.m.)

Debates among Saddam's inner circle on 12 hours of tape

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- A nonprofit group Saturday released about 12 hours of audio recordings in which then-Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein warns that the United States will be attacked with weapons of mass destruction -- but not by Iraq.

"Terrorism is coming. I told the Americans a long time before August 2 and I told the British as well I think ... I told them that, in the future, there will be terrorism with weapons of mass destruction," said Hussein, speaking to then-deputy Prime Minister Tariq Aziz.

Iraqi forces invaded Kuwait on Aug. 2, 1990, setting off the 1991 Persian Gulf War. "What would prevent this technology from developing and people from smuggling it? All of this, before the stories of smuggling ... this is coming, this story is coming but not from Iraq," Hussein said.

The tapes, believed to have been recorded in the mid- to late-1990s, were obtained by the U.S. government sometime after the invasion of Iraq in March 2003. The recordings were posted on the Web site of The Intelligence Summit. (Posted 6:30 p.m.)

Israel considers sanctions on Palestinians

JERUSALEM (CNN) -- Now that a new Hamas-led Palestinian parliament has been sworn in and seated, Israeli officials on Sunday plan to consider sanctions against the Palestinians.

Israeli officials -- who oppose the presence of its sworn enemy in the Palestinian government -- are considering barring thousands of Palestinian workers, sealing off Gaza, and halting any Gaza development projects Israel is involved in.

The moves are expected to be determined at Israel's weekly Cabinet meeting on Sunday, a day after a historic changing of the guard in the West Bank and Gaza -- the swearing-in of the new Palestinian parliament.

The stage is set for important negotiations over a new government between Mahmoud Abbas, the Palestinian president from the Fatah party, and Hamas, which calls for the destruction of Israel and opposes being bound by accords signed by the Palestinians under the late Palestinian Authority President Yasser Arafat. (Posted, 2:15 p.m.)

Cartoon protests in Nigeria turn violent; 16 dead, 11 chuches burned

LAGOS, Nigeria (CNN) -- The rage over the depiction of the Prophet Mohammed in cartoons spilled over in Africa's most populous country on Saturday, resulting in 16 deaths and attacks on Christian institutions.

Demonstrations and skirmishes erupted in two northern Nigerian cities -- Maiduguri and Katsina -- over the caricatures of Islam's Prophet Mohammed, drawings that have spawned rage in the Muslim world, with much of it directed at Denmark where the cartoons were originially published in a newspaper. Maiduguri and Katsina are in the largely Muslim northern region of the country, which has a significant Christian population as well.

In the northeastern city of Maiduguri, 15 people were killed, 11 churches were burned, and businesses owned by Christians were attacked, a national police spokesman said. Police said 115 people were arrested.

In the north-central city of Katsina, one person was killed, two police officers were injured, and 25 people have been arrested, the police spokesman said. (Posted 2:15 p.m.)

Heavy rains, mud slow recovery efforts in Philippines

SOUTHERN LEYTE, Philippines (CNN) -- Heavy rains, deep mud and the threat of a typhoon are hampering rescue and recovery efforts in the southern Philippines nearly two days after a mudslide wiped out a remote village of more than 1,800 people on the island of Leyte.

So far, 56 bodies have been found and 906 people are officially listed as missing, but the Philippine Red Cross fears the death toll will sharply rise.

As of early Sunday, 96 survivors have been accounted for, 35 of those suffered injuries, according to the Red Cross.

Weakened by two weeks of steady rains, a mountain overlooking Guinsahugon village disintegrated into mud at 9 a.m. Friday (8 p.m. ET Thursday) and buried nearly 100 acres (40 hectares) of land.

Rosette Lerias, the provincial governor of Leyte, said the top priority is the rescue of 246 children and seven teachers trapped in a school building.

"When you are in a situation like this, anything that gives you hope, you've got to give credit to these things," she said. (Updated, 2:15 p.m.)

Awaiting final tests for deadly bird flu, India orders 300,000 poultry culled

NEW DELHI (CNN) -- Fearing that the deadly H5N1 bird flu strain could be affecting birds within its borders, India Saturday ordered over 300,000 poultry to be culled in the western Indian state of Maharashtra.

India's cabinet held an emergency session Saturday to address the issue. Health Secretary P.K. Hota said preliminary tests on eight chickens from Maharashtra confirmed the presence of bird flu, but it was not clear if it was the H5N1 strain which has been transmitted to humans in seven other countries, six of them in Asia. Final tests will be conducted next week.

Hota said some 750,000 vaccines will also be rushed to vaccinate other poultry in Maharashtra, as a precaution. The eight chickens being tested are among 28,000 birds that have died over the last two weeks in Maharashtra.

France orders massive vaccinations amid H5N1 fears

(CNN) -- French authorities are also conducting final tests to determine if a wild duck that died in eastern France, near the Swiss border, contracted H5N1.

French Agriculture Minister Dominique Bussereau said tests have confirmed the duck has the H5 strain, but it is unclear if it is the N1 variant. It was one of seven ducks found dead on Monday in the village of Joyeux, in the administrative district of Ain, Bussereau said.

The minister stressed that no avian influenza has been found in France's poultry, and "there is no danger in consuming poultry meat."

As a precaution, veterinarians are inspecting all poultry farms, taking samples as necessary. Poultry and pet birds on chicken farms are being confined, and disinfection measures are in place for humans. Bussereau said no poultry would be culled.

However, Bussereau said some 900,000 birds in the three western French districts of Landes, Loire-Atlantique, and Vendee will be vaccinated, although they are more than 300 miles (480 km) away from where the ducks were found.

The vaccinations will begin on Wednesday, Bussereau said.

"Three million doses will be ready, 18 vets will participate in these operations which will last for one month," he said. (Posted, 12:35 p.m.)

20 injured in blast near Philippines army base where U.S. troops are encamped

(CNN) -- An explosion at a southern Philippines island on Saturday at a karaoke bar near a military base injured 20 people, six seriously, according to the Philippines southern command.

The base is in Jolo, where the Philippines 104th Brigade is headquartered and where American troops are staying for upcoming joint war exercises. The command said the incident won't hold up the joint exercises. (Posted 10:03 a.m.)

Abbas calls on Hamas to respect previous Palestinian accords

RAMALLAH, West Bank (CNN) -- Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas on Saturday praised the democratic process that brought Hamas to power, but said the Islamic militants must work within the current framework of peace agreements and policies, including dealing with Israel.

In a talk that lasted nearly an hour, Abbas addressed the opening session of the Palestinian parliament, which Hamas controls with 74 of 132 seats.

Abbas' admonitions run counter to Hamas' stated goals, which call for the destruction of Israel and oppose being bound by accords signed by the Palestinians under the late Palestinian Authority President Yasser Arafat.

Hamas won power over the Palestinian Legislative Council in the Jan. 25 election that ousted the late Palestinian leader's Fatah Party.

Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri said the group understands Abbas' position regarding Israel, but it is sticking to its position. "We declared our position from the first and there is no change." (Posted 7:25 a.m.)

Palestinian national guard demonstrates for payment

JERUSALEM (CNN) -- Members of the Palestinian National Guard demonstrated Saturday in Gaza City outside the cultural center where the Palestinian Legislative Council was to convene later in the day.

The guard members said they have not been paid in three months. Three police were slightly injured in the demonstration, and a few of the pro-Fatah demonstrators were arrested, said CNN Producer Adil Bradlow, who witnessed the demonstration. (Posted 7:25 a.m.)

3 Americans, 1 Briton among nine abducted in Niger Delta

(CNN) -- Three Americans and a Briton were among nine foreign workers abducted in Nigeria amid recent violence in the western African nation's Niger delta, where militants have attacked oil and gas pipelines.

The U.S. Embassy in the capital Abuja and the British Foreign Office on Saturday confirmed the abductions of their citizens.

An e-mail from the Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta claimed the action, saying the move was "in response to attacks on communities in the Niger Delta by the Nigerian army."

The group said it "moved into Delta state" overnight "to commence an attack on installations in Delta state."

"This morning's attacks were impromptu and directly related to attacks on Ijaw communities in Delta state by the Nigerian military," it said. The group said it has launched a fight against foreign oil interests, saying it is fighting for greater local control of oil wealth in the southern region.

The militants said that two Thais, two Egyptians and a Filipino were kidnapped along with the Americans and the Briton. (Posted 7:25 a.m.)

8 dead in Iraq violence

BAGHDAD (CNN) -- Six people died in Iraq violence on Saturday, five people in Baghdad, including a U.S. soldier, and another on the outskirts of Baquba, police said.

In addition, Iraqi police said they found two bodies shot in the head -- one in Rustumiye in southeast Baghdad and the other in Ghazaliye in northwest Baghdad. Neither body was carrying identification and it was not clear when the victims were killed, police said. (Posted 7:17 a.m.)

British military: 2 Macedonians kidnapped in southern Iraq

BAGHDAD (CNN) -- Two Macedonian nationals working for a services company called Ecologue were abducted in Iraq, Maj. Peter Critts, a spokesperson for the British military in Basra, said Saturday.

The men were traveling in a vehicle on Thursday outside of Basra when the kidnapping took place, he said. Iraqi police have been informed and are investigating the incident. (Posted 7:17 a.m.)

Witnesses: 4 youths critically hurt when police fire on anti-cartoon demonstration

LAHORE, Pakistan (CNN) -- Police fired Saturday on several hundred youths aged 9 to 18 who had assembled on a road in the eastern Pakistani city of Chaniot to protest the publication of cartoons depicting the Prophet Mohammed, wounding four of them critically, witnesses said.

Indonesia tallies 19th human death from bird flu

(CNN) -- Indonesia has confirmed its 19th human death from bird flu. Senior health ministry official Hariadi Wibisono said there have been 27 human bird flu cases in Indonesia, 19 of them fatal. (Posted: 3:56 a.m.)

Bush says U.S. will support further efforts toward peace in Darfur

TAMPA, Fla. (CNN) -- President Bush on Friday said the United States would support heightened efforts to establish peace in Sudan's war-torn Darfur region.

"The strategy there was to encourage African Union troops to try to bring some sense of security to these poor people that are being herded out of their villages and just terribly mistreated," the president told a supportive crowd in Tampa.

"We need more troops; the effort was noble but it didn't achieve the objective." Bush noted that he spoke this week with United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan about the matter.

"But it's going to require, I think, a NATO stewardship, planning, facilitating, organizing, probably double the number of peacekeepers that are there now, in order to start bringing some sense of security. There has to be a consequence for people abusing their fellow citizens." (Posted: 3:56 a.m.)

About 1,800 people unaccounted for after mudslide in Philippines

SOUTHERN LEYTE, Philippines (CNN) -- A day after a mudslide buried nearly all of a village in the southern Philippines island of Leyte, the official death toll Saturday was 35, but officials said about 1,800 people were missing.

Rosette Lerias, provincial governor of Leyte, said just 56 of the village's 1,875 residents had been found alive, including a child.

There was little reason for optimism: no survivors were found Saturday; continued rain grounded helicopters. Weakened by two weeks of steady rains, a mountain overlooking the village disintegrated into mud at 9 a.m. Friday and buried a square kilometer (nearly half a square mile) under some 30 feet of earth. (Posted: 3:54 a.m.)

Official: 11 killed in Libyan protests over Danish cartoons

(CNN) -- Protesters turned out in two Libyan cities Friday evening to denounce cartoons depicting the Muslim prophet Mohammed, said the state-run Jamahiriya News Agency, or Jana, and 11 deaths were reported by an official with the Italian Embassy in Tripoli, quoting the Libyan government.

There also were a "high number" of injuries during clashes with police, the official said. Police fired shots above the crowds and used tear gas in an effort to disperse them. In the port city of Benghazi in northeast Libya, protesters set the Italian Embassy on fire, but it was safely evacuated and no employees were injured, said Francesco Trupiano, Italy's ambassador to Libya. The building appears to have been targeted because it is the only Western consulate in the city, he said. (Posted: 3:52 a.m.)

U.S. Coast Guard cadet accused of sexually assaulting female cadets

(CNN) -- The attorney for a senior cadet at the U.S. Coast Guard Academy accused of sexually assaulting female classmates insisted Friday that his client is not guilty.

"My client is innocent," said Merle Smith, attorney for Senior Cadet Webster M. Smith "He has maintained that position all along."

Smith, 22, originally from Houston, is accused of involvement in 10 cases of sexual harassment -- which include kissing, touching, fondling, sodomy and rape -- by six female cadets, academy spokesman Chief Warrant Officer Dave French told CNN. Smith was formally charged on Feb. 9. The incidents are alleged to have occurred between May and November 2005. (Posted: 3:51 a.m.)

Time Warner, Icahn reach settlement

NEW YORK (CNNMoney.com) -- Time Warner said Friday that it has reached a settlement with Carl Icahn, the activist shareholder who had recommended that the media company be broken into four units.

The company conceded to some of Icahn's other demands, but not that one. Time Warner said Icahn will no longer contest the company's slate of board directors at Time Warner's next shareholder meeting.

Icahn, who proposed the break-up plan in conjunction with investment bank Lazard last week, had been considering nominating a slate of directors to Time Warner's board in order to take control of the company. But many large institutional investors did not back Icahn's plan and as a result, he scaled back his efforts for a major change at Time Warner. (Posted: 3:49 a.m.)

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