RealNews

Ship at centre of al-Qaeda alert

South Korean authorities have conducted a sweeping search of a freighter that visited Australia three months ago after receiving intelligence that operatives of al-Qaeda might be on board. The search of the Athena, which arrived in the west coast port of Kunsan from New Zealand, failed to turn up any evidence of the terrorist group. But officials said they would keep the vessel under surveillance while it remained in port. The security alert comes ahead of planned visits to the country this month by US Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and Pakistan’s President Pervez Musharraf, and reportedly follows a tip-off from the US military. Authorities feared al-Qaeda operatives might try to enter the country, where 37,000 US troops are stationed. South Korea, a chief US ally in the region, is debating whether to send combat troops to support American forces in Iraq. Full Story

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