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Saturday, August 19

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. "Posted" times are Eastern Daylight.

3 U.S. soldiers killed, 3 wounded in Afghan battle

(CNN) -- Three U.S. soldiers were killed in a battle with Taliban militants Saturday evening in eastern Afghanistan, according to U.S military spokesman Col. Thomas Collins. Three other U.S. soldiers were wounded, Collins said.

The battle began when a U.S. patrol was hit by a roadside bomb in the Kunar province near the Pakistan border, Collins said.

A "fairly lengthy battle" ensued with the U.S. soldiers calling for artillery and air support, Collins said.

Collins said it was not known how many militants were killed, but they were eventually driven away. (Posted 2:41 a.m.)

School teacher shot to death near Baquba

BAGHDAD (CNN) -- A primary school teacher was shot dead by a gunman in Khalis town, about 12 miles north of Baquba, Iraq Saturday at 7 p.m., Baquba police said.

The shooting was not at the school, police said. (Posted 2:25 a.m.)

Boulder man: Karr's obsession with Ramsey 'a little bit too much'

BOULDER, Colo. (CNN) -- A Boulder man who put Karr in touch with Michael Tracey, a journalism professor at the University of Colorado in Boulder who has produced a documentary on the Ramsey case and followed it closely, recounted his meeting with the suspect Saturday.

Freelance journalist Michael Sandrock said he met Karr in June 2002 while in Paris, and Karr asked about the Ramsey case when he found out Sandrock was from Boulder. Over the next few days, however, Sandrock -- who admitted he has not followed the case closely -- said he began to feel uncomfortable with Karr's intensity and his involvement in aspects of the case, including the mechanics of the girl's murder.

"It was just a little bit too much," Sandrock told reporters. "I always got the feeling that there was something else he was ready to talk to me about," he said, although he was quick to point out he has no idea whether Karr is responsible for JonBenet's murder. (Posted 8:28 p.m.)

U.N. secretary-general calls Israeli raid 'violation' of cease-fire

UNITED NATIONS (CNN) -- An Israeli raid Saturday in the Lebanon's Bekaa Valley, which Israel says was a move to prevent Hezbollah from receiving arms and equipment from Iran and Syria, was a "violation" of the cease-fire agreement currently in place between Israel and Hezbollah, U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan said in a statement from his spokesman.

"The secretary-general is deeply concerned about a violation by the Israeli side of the cessation of hostilities as laid out in Security Council resolution 1701," the statement said.

Also, UNIFIL has reported several air violations by Israeli military aircraft, according to the spokesman. (Posted 6:38 p.m.)

Chemicals found in water bottle on United Airlines flight

NEW YORK (CNN) -- An Aquafina water bottle with a suspicious green liquid inside was found aboard a Denver-bound United Airlines flight at Newark Liberty International Airport, a state law enforcement source said Saturday.

Initial tests revealed that the fluid, which was discovered by a cleaning crew, contained five chemicals no longer allowed on flights, including hydrogen peroxide, the law enforcement official told CNN. Since an alleged terror plot was discovered by British police two weeks ago, British and American passengers are prohibited from carrying liquids aboard planes, including water.

The bottle found Saturday was discovered on Flight 503 after the passengers deplaned, said a United Airlines spokesman. The liquid was undergoing further testing by New Jersey state officials. After a delay, the plane continued on to Denver. (Posted 4:45 p.m.)

U.S. soldiers assist with flood relief efforts in Ethiopia

(CNN) -- A convoy of U.S. soldiers was in Ethiopia Saturday, providing humanitarian relief assistance following weeks of devastating flash flooding that has left hundreds of people dead and thousands homeless.

The 35 members, who arrived Friday, come from a team of U.S. naval Mobile Construction Battalion-5 and the Combined Joint Task Force, according to the U.S. military. The so-called "Seabees" will focus on shelter and sanitation issues, constructing sanitation facilities and constructing some 52 tents brought for displaced Ethiopians, the military said in a statement.

Dire Dawa in eastern Ethiopia was one of the areas hardest hit by a flash flood two weeks ago, displacing some 6,000 to 9,000 residents, U.S. Navy Commander Paul J. Vandenberg told CNN. The homeless residents have been sheltered in schools, he said. "We are working to set up a tent camp in order to move them out of the schools into decent living structures so we can open the classrooms up for school to start in a few weeks." (Posted 4:17 p.m.)

Israeli PM defends raid in phone call with U.N.'s Annan

(CNN) -- Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert defended an Israeli raid in the Bekaa Valley in a phone call Saturday ith United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan, officials said.

Israeli government officials said Annan called Olmert on Saturday to discuss the progress of building the agreed-upon international U.N. peacekeeping force in southern Lebanon. During the conversation, Annan told Olmert he had received complaints about the IDF activitity in Lebanon, specifically the Bekaa Valley raid.

Olmert defended the action, telling Annan it was meant to stop Hezbollah from re-arming with weapons and equipment. Olmert also stressed the importance of monitoring the Syrian-Lebanese border. The UN confirmed the call, but did not elaborate. (Posted 4:04 p.m.)

U.N. delegation in Lebanon now, headed to Israel next

BEIRUT (CNN) -- The U.N. delegation that is holding meetings in Lebanon Saturday and Sunday will be headed to Israel next, the United Nations said in statement.

The delegation conferred with Lebanese Prime Minister Fouad Siniora and other senior officials on Saturday "to discuss the means of implementing Security Council resolution 1701 for a long term cease-fire between Lebanon and Israel."

Vijay Nambiar, U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan special adviser, and Terje Roed-Larsen, Annan's special representative for the implementation of Security Council resolution 1559 visited officials.

Lebanese Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri, Foreign Minister Fawzi Salloukh, Deputy prime minister and minister of National Defense Elias Murr, and Minister of Interior Ahmed Fatfat also met with the delegation.

Gen. Alain Pellegrini, commander of the U.N. Interim Force in Lebanon, also briefed the team, which is meeting wtih senior Lebanese politicians and lawmakers on Sunday before heading to Israel. (Posted 2:50 p.m.)

JonBenet suspect flies to Los Angeles Sunday

BANGKOK (CNN) -- No decision has been made on where John Mark Karr, a suspect in the 1996 death of 6-year-old JonBenet Ramsey, will be taken once he arrives Sunday night in Los Angeles on a flight from Bangkok, a spokeswoman for the Boulder, Colo., District Attorney's office said Saturday.

Karen Salaz said several options have been discussed, including the possibility that Karr will remain awhile in California. The father of three boys was a teacher when was arrested in April 2001 in Sonoma County, Calif., on five misdemeanor charges of possessing child pornography.

A bench warrant was issued for his arrest seven months later when he failed to appear for a court date. U.S. officials are to accompany Karr on the Thai Airways commercial flight that leaves Sunday night from Thailand and is to arrive in Los Angeles at 8:40 p.m. (11:40 p.m. ET).

JonBenet's body was discovered in the basement of her parents Boulder home the day after Christmas. (Posted 1:45 p.m.)

4 international troops, 1 Afghan soldier killed in Afghan fighting

(CNN) -- Three U.S.-led coalition soldiers, a U.S. service member and an Afghan soldier were killed on Saturday in the northeastern and southern regions of Afghanistan, authorities said.

The U.S.-led coalition command in Kabul said three U.S.-led coalition soldiers were killed and three others were wounded in Kunar province in northeastern Afghanistan "while battling Taliban extremists.

"A coalition combat patrol struck an improvised explosive device and engaged a group of Taliban extremists. Enemy forces were attacked with small arms and artillery fire," according to a Combined Forces Command-Afghanistan press statement.

The nationalities of the three dead soldiers have not been disclosed. Militant casualties haven't been reported. (Posted 1:15 p.m.)

Democrats ratify new presidential nominating calendar

CHICAGO (CNN) -- Nevada and South Carolina will join Iowa and New Hampshire as the kick-off states for the 2008 Democratic presidential nominating contest, under a plan approved Saturday by the Democratic National Committee.

The new calendar means Democrats will hold four nominating contests in January 2008, forcing the party's presidential hopefuls to expand their campaign efforts beyond the traditional proving grounds of Iowa and New Hampshire. All other states will be allowed to hold caucuses and primaries beginning Feb. 5. The DNC approved the new calendar by a voice vote. (Posted 12:58 p.m.)

Bush: 'We'll defeat the terrorists' in Middle East

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- President Bush says the United States promises to defeat terrorism and establish democracy in war-ravaged Lebanon and war-torn Iraq, the two major hotspots in the Middle East.

"It's no coincidence that two nations that are building free societies in the heart of the Middle East, Lebanon and Iraq, are also the scenes of the most violent terrorist activity. We will defeat the terrorists by strengthening young democracies across the broader Middle East," Bush said in Saturday's weekly radio address.

Bush said he recently conferred with Pentagon and State Department officials on the war on terror and recent conflict in Lebanon, "a conflict which began with an unprovoked attack by Hezbollah on Israel."

Bush said the leadership of Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. John Bolton were instrumental in the adoption of a U.N. Security Council resolution designed to bring security as part of a "broader struggle between freedom and terror that is unfolding across the region." (Posted 11:08 a.m.)

9 dead in Baquba violence; human right activist, 2 professors killed

BAGHDAD (CNN) -- Attackers killed nine people on Saturday in scattered incident around the volatile city of Baquba in Iraq, authorities told CNN.

Nine people were wounded in the strikes, according to an official with the Diyala Joint Coordination Center.

Two professors from Diyala University and a worker from the Iraqi Human Rights Association were among those killed.

The incidents took place over a 12-hour period. Baquba -- which has a mixed population including Sunnis and Shiites -- is the capital of Diyala province, northeast of Baghdad.

It has endured a lot of violence, both sectarian and insurgent, since the Iraq war began. (Posted 11:07 a.m.)

Lebanese official threatens troop deployment halt if U.N. can't assure Israeli compliance with resolution; Israel defends commando raid

BEIRUT (CNN) -- Lebanon's defense minister is threatening to halt the deployment of army troops to the country's south in light of an Israeli commando raid on Saturday.

An adviser to Lebanon's Defense Minister Elias Murr told CNN that the defense minister is considering the move if United Nations does not ensure that Israel is abiding by U.N. Resolution 1701.

The adviser also claimed that Hezbollah is sticking by the cease fire. The Israel Defense Forces, however, defended the operation, saying it was a successful move aimed at preventing and disrupting the transfer of weapons from Iran and Syria to Hezbollah.

One Israeli officer was killed and two more were wounded in the Saturday morning operation carried out by an elite unit in Bekaa Valley, the IDF said. (Posted 9:23 a.m.)

50 French troops arrive in Lebanon

NAQOURA, Lebanon (CNN) -- Fifty French troops arrived by boat to the southern Lebanese shore of Naquora, their country's flags waving wildly in the breeze, making them the first contingent of international reinforcements since the cease-fire in the region.

"This is the very first step of the deployment of 200 soldiers, which is going to happen next week," Commander of French forces in Naqoura, Berton Bonneau said. They are engineers who will work to facilitate the movements of the other 150 troops expected to arrive over the next week.

They will, among other things, repair roads, destroy unexploded ordnance and set up barracks. They have brought in trucks, armored personnel carriers, and heavy machinery. (Posted 9:03 a.m.)

IDF: Officer killed during early morning raid in southern Lebanon

JERUSALEM (CNN) -- Israeli troops conducted what it called a successful operation aimed at preventing and disrupting the transfer of weapons from Iran and Syria to Hezbollah early Saturday.

One Israeli officer was killed and two more were wounded in the morning operation carried out by an elite unit in Bekaa Valley, the IDF said.

After successfully landing vehicles by helicopter in Bouday, located in the Bekaa Valley, IDF forces reportedly clashed with Hezbollah forces, a Baalbeck Civil Defense official said. The fighting resulted in Israeli airstrikes in the area.

Lebanon's prime minister condemned the operation, calling it a violation of the U.N.-sanctioned cease-fire, officials with the prime minister's office said. (Posted 6:46 a.m.)

Lebanon puts death toll at 1,069

BEIRUT (CNN) -- In figures updated Saturday, Lebanese Internal Security Forces reported 1,069 people were killed in Lebanon during the 34-day conflict with Israel, with another 4,055 injured.

Israel has put its death toll from fighting and rocket attacks at 159.

A cease-fire between the Israeli military and Hezbollah took effect on Monday.

Israel has been withdrawing from the south as Lebanese and U.N. forces move in to take their place. (Posted 6:16 a.m.)

IDF: West Bank militants kill Israeli soldier

JERUSALEM (CNN) -- Palestinian militants killed an Israeli soldier when they opened fire at Israeli forces in the West Bank community, Bkaot, IDF said. It is located east of Nablus in the Jordan Valley. (Posted 5:58 a.m.)

IDF arrests Palestinian deputy prime minister

JERUSALEM (CNN) -- Israel arrested Palestinian Deputy Prime Minister Nassereddin Shaer in its crackdown on the ruling Hamas party early Saturday, Israel Defense Forces said.

The IDF said Shaer was arrested for being a senior member in a terror organization.

Saturday's arrest comes two weeks after Israel took the Palestinian parliament's speaker Aziz Dweik into custody.

Both arrests come in the wake of the July 25 kidnapping of an Israeli soldier by Hamas' militant wing and other Palestinian militant groups.

(Posted 3:13 a.m.)

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