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Venezuela summit car bomb? False alarm

Venezuelan security officials said Thursday that a suspicious car blown up outside the venue of a major Latin American summit turned out to be a false alarm.

Bomb-squad experts carried out a controlled explosion on the car as part of a major security sweep ahead of the arrival today of 23 leaders from Latin America, Spain and Portugal.

"It was a false alarm," Gen. Napoleon Romero, head of security at the summit, said. Romero said all cars lining the route to the hotel were being removed ahead of the summit.

As the owner of the vehicle could not be found, a bomb squad set off a small explosion to blast open its doors, he said.

Employees at a nearby currency exchange said the car had been rented by a tourist who had left it outside while changing money.

The blast was carried out shortly before Venezuela's President Rafael Caldera was to visit the hotel to inaugurate a high-tech press center built for the summit.

Israelis sought in plot

to kidnap Onassis heir

GENEVA _ A Geneva judge said Thursday he had issued international arrest warrants for seven Israelis in connection with an alleged plot to kidnap Athina Roussel _ sole surviving heir to Greek shipping tycoon Aristotle Onassis.

Judge Jacques Delieutraz called the suspects, several of whom were former Israeli army officers, "agents" who had done the "dirty work" of preparing the abduction by photographing the 12-year-old and her security entourage in Switzerland.

But Moshe Gilboa, deputy chief of the Israeli police national investigative department, said in Jerusalem that Israeli police had questioned several people and found no evidence of a plot.

"We found no evidence of any crime _ not kidnapping nor attempt or conspiracy to kidnap (and) these people were released."

The apparent plot was uncovered by Geneva police earlier this year but only revealed in a family statement this week.

Netanyahu: I did nothing

to incite Rabin slaying

JERUSALEM _ In an open letter, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu rejected accusations he helped stir the incitement that led to Yitzhak Rabin's murder two years ago, and said the slain leader would have agreed.

Rabin's family and supporters have accused Netanyahu, then opposition leader, of poisoning the atmosphere before the murder by speaking at rallies where protesters held banners calling for Rabin's death.

At one rally, Netanyahu walked in front of a coffin carried by demonstrators calling Rabin a traitor.

In the letter, released Thursday by his office, Netanyahu rejected any responsibility for Rabin's death.

"To assume collective guilt for such a heinous crime by one despicable individual is unjust to our society and far too exonerative of the murderer's unspeakable act," Netanyahu wrote.

"I am convinced that no one would condemn with greater vigor this deliberate confusion between political dispute and political assassination than Rabin himself."


KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia _ Malaysia has banned academics from painting a gloomy picture of the country's smog problem because this could stop foreigners from coming to the country.

Education Minister Najib Tun Razak said Thursday the gag order was imposed to prevent "speculative" reports from researchers.

The smog, which has thinned somewhat, is being generated by forest fires in Indonesia.

KINGSTON, Jamaica _ An unidentified gunman shot and killed Venezuela's ambassador to Jamaica, Alfredo Enrique Vargas, at his residence in Kingston in the early hours of Thursday.

Police said Vargas, who spent some of his youth in Jamaica when his father also served as ambassador, was found by family members lying in his bed with a gunshot wound to the chest.

Police investigators offered no motive for the killing.