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EU LAWMAKERS CRITICIZE AIRPORT BODY SCANNERS

France

European Union lawmakers have joined U.S. civil liberty campaigners in criticizing a new scanner that allows airport security to see through passengers' clothes, calling it a virtual strip search that should only be used as a last resort. It already is being introduced in several U.S. airports and has been tested in other countries around the world, including EU nations such as Britain and the Netherlands. However, EU officials said it could face a ban if the 27-nation bloc does not include it in a new regulation listing acceptable airport security equipment. "Many travelers will consider these scanners an enormous intrusion" on their personal privacy, Philip Bradbourn, a British Conservative member of the EU assembly, said Tuesday.

Saudi Arabia

991 are indicted on terrorism charges

Saudi authorities have indicted 991 people on charges that they participated in terrorist attacks carried out in the kingdom over the last five years, Interior Minister Prince Nayef said Tuesday. The legal proceedings mark a significant step in Saudi Arabia's fight against terror. Authorities had been reluctant to hold trials on terrorism charges until they had shown the public that every effort was made to give the men a chance to repent.

Bolivia

Morales celebrates constitution vote

Evo Morales said Tuesday that he can "go to the cemetery happy" after Congress approved holding a referendum on his new constitution empowering Bolivia's long-oppressed Indian majority. The proposed charter now goes before voters on Jan. 25. "Honestly, I could go to the cemetery happy because now I have fulfilled my commitment to the Bolivian people," Morales told thousands who gathered in the central plaza of La Paz.

Zimbabwe

Opposition could boycott meeting

Zimbabwe's main opposition leader threatened Tuesday to boycott a meeting aimed at breaking the deadlock in power-sharing talks, prompting the ruling party to accuse him of delaying tactics. The Movement for Democratic Change leader Morgan Tsvangirai missed a meeting in Swaziland on Monday hosted by the Southern African Development Community. He said President Robert Mugabe's government's refusal to grant him a passport showed a lack of respect.

Somalia

Indian vessel, crew freed from pirates

Somali gunmen freed a hijacked Indian vessel and its 13 crew members on Tuesday after a battle with pirates off the country's northern coast, a Somali official said. Four of the pirates were captured during the shootout and four others escaped, said Ali Abdi Aware, the foreign minister of Somalia's semiautonomous region of Puntland. No crew members of the dhow - a traditional wooden vessel - were wounded.

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