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Freed U.S. hostage faced beheading, Russian says

MOSCOW, (AP) -- An American citizen held hostage for nearly a month in Chechnya was in imminent danger of being killed even though, according to his account, his captors treated him decently, a top Russian official said today.

Kenneth Gluck, director of the North Caucasus mission of Doctors Without Borders, was abducted Jan. 9 by masked gunmen in Russia's separatist Chechnya region.

He spoke publicly Thursday about his ordeal for the first time. He would not speculate on who had captured him but said his captors did not mistreat him.

Sergei Yastrzhembsky, the Kremlin's chief spokesman on Chechnya, said Russian forces had intercepted radio conversations between Chechen bands indicating that Gluck's captors were contemplating beheading him.

He said Gluck was freed during a special operation by Russia's Federal Security Service. He said details would be kept secret to protect sources and agents in Chechnya.

Gluck said his captors had told him one day that he would be released and that they deposited him outside the home of a Chechen doctor he knew.

New earthquakes injure 25, cause panic in area of India

BHACHAU, India (AP) -- More earthquakes rattled India's disaster-ravaged Gujarat state late Thursday, causing panicked residents to jump out of their windows, fearing their homes would collapse.

At least 25 people were injured -- 15 of them after they jumped from windows during the quakes, police said.

The Indian Meteorological Department said a 5.3-magnitude quake shook the Kutch district, followed by 10 aftershocks of magnitudes measuring between 3 and 4.

The epicenter of the largest tremor was about 13 miles northeast of Bhachau, a town of 15,000 that was extensively damaged in the Jan. 26 quake, an official said.

More than 230 tremors have rocked the region since the 7.7-magnitude earthquake that killed more than 17,000 people.

Deal to provide free doses of sleeping sickness drug

GENEVA, Switzerland (AP) -- A drug credited with curing African sleeping sickness soon may be supplied free to doctors by a U.S. company interested in using it for another purpose -- slowing the growth of facial hair.

Stocks of eflornithine, a cure for the brain disease sleeping sickness, were running out worldwide after Aventis, which held the patent, announced in 1999 it no longer intended to produce the drug and handed over the production license to the World Health Organization.

After two years of work, WHO has persuaded Bristol Myers Squibb to supply it with the drug for use against the disease, in return for the rights to use it in its face cream Vaniqa.

Jean Jannin, head of the sleeping sickness surveillance center, said WHO would sign a deal with Bristol Myers Squibb in a few days.

The agency Doctors Without Borders said the company agreed to supply 60,000 free doses of eflornithine a year for three years, enough for treatment across Africa.

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