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Removal of crew's remains aboard Russian sub begins

MOSCOW (AP) -- Russian navy forensic experts began removing the remains of crewmen from the Kursk nuclear submarine today.

Authorities said the bodies found so far could be identified by sight after 14 months in their frigid underwater tomb.

The specialists removed three bodies from the rear of the submarine and saw others, said Prosecutor General Vladimir Ustinov, who is leading the team inspecting the wrecked sub in a dry dock in Roslyakovo, near the Arctic port of Murmansk.

Russian officials say most of the Kursk's 118 sailors were killed by powerful explosions that sank the submarine during naval exercises in August 2000.

But at least 23 survived for hours in the stern compartments, according to letters found by divers who recovered 12 bodies from the sunken vessel a year ago.

Most of the Kursk was raised from the Barents Sea floor on Oct. 8 in a $65 million salvage operation.

After the remains are recovered, authorities say their next task will be to secure the Kursk's two nuclear reactors and its 22 missiles.

Nigerian soldiers accused of killings in raids on villages

ABUJA, Nigeria (AP) -- Soldiers raided six villages in eastern Nigeria, razing homes and gunning down more than 100 civilians, apparently in revenge for the slaying of troops earlier this month, state officials said Wednesday.

Tahav Agerzu, spokesman for eastern Benue state government, accused the federal government and military of conducting "jungle justice." Defense officials in Abuja, Nigeria's capital, denied any involvement in the raids.

The attackers were apparently searching for gunmen who kidnapped and killed 19 soldiers earlier this month in Benue, where villagers have been waging a decadelong ethnic feud.

The attacks, which continued into Tuesday, spread to Vaase, Anyiin, Iorja, Zaki-Biam and Tseadoor villages, close to where the mutilated bodies of 19 soldiers were found Oct. 12. Thousands of villagers reportedly fled.

Russia returns remains of WWII Italian POWs

MOSCOW (AP) -- The remains of 1,064 Italian servicemen and prisoners of war killed in the former Soviet Union during World War II were turned over to Italian officials Wednesday.

The ceremony at the Chkalovsky military airfield outside Moscow was organized by Russia's War Memorials organization. Its representatives had exhumed the remains, together with experts from the Italian Defense Ministry.

An Italian priest read prayers for the dead at the ceremony, which was attended by Italian Ambassador Giancarlo Aragona and Russian Defense Ministry officials.

Four soldiers carried a large wooden crate holding a container with the remains to a waiting plane.

Between 1991 and 2000, the remains of 6,860 Italian soldiers were repatriated to Italy for burial, the ITAR-Tass news agency said.

Russian volunteers fan out across World War II battlegrounds every spring and summer, searching for bones and other military remains.

Two men accused of taking model ship of Diana's

LONDON (AP) -- Police arrested two men Wednesday in connection with the disappearance of a $700,000 model of a sailing ship from the estate of Princess Diana.

The men were apprehended in Chesterfield, central England, on suspicion of handling stolen goods.

The bejeweled model of a dhow, an Arab sailing vessel, was a wedding gift to Diana and Prince Charles from the emir of Bahrain. Scotland Yard launched a probe last year into its disappearance and that of other royal baubles

Three people were charged earlier in the case, including Harold Brown, 48, a longtime butler to Diana, and a jeweler accused of handling stolen goods.

Press reports say police were alerted when the model was put up for sale at a London art dealership.

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