AFGHANISTAN: Jet with 44 aboard crashes in Kush

Fog hindered rescuers who fanned out across mountainous terrain Monday to search for the wreckage of an Afghan airliner with 44 passengers aboard. After tips from residents who heard a loud bang, authorities rushed to the Salang Pass, a major route through the Hindu Kush that connects the capital to the north. Last night, they said they suspected the plane may have gone down farther south, closer to its destination of Kabul International Airport. The plane, operated by Pamir Airways, a private airline, was traveling from Kunduz.

Five UN workers freed from Taliban

Troops stormed a Taliban compound in northern Baghlan province Monday and freed five Afghan UN staff members who had been held hostage since April 15, an operation that left two soldiers and several insurgents dead, an Afghan general said. Their vehicles were hijacked in Baghlan, which has seen increasing Taliban activity in the past year.

IRAQ: Ban on nine elected is overturned

A court overturned Monday a ban on nine newly elected parliament members who had been barred by a committee vetting candidates for ties to Saddam Hussein's regime, clearing a major hurdle to forming the new government. The ban of the candidates, seven of them from a Sunni-backed bloc, was seen as an attempt to overturn election results that handed the Shia prime minister a narrow loss and threatened to further delay what has already been a long election process.

WESTERN EUROPE: New rules for flying in ash clouds

Aviation authorities introduced relaxed flight safety rules Monday to minimize more disruptions caused by a volcanic eruption in Iceland, as three of Europe's busiest airports reopened after a dense ash cloud dissipated. Britain's Civil Aviation Authority said it agreed with airlines, regulators and engine manufacturers on new rules that would let planes fly for a limited time through higher ash densities than currently allowed. Heathrow and Gatwick airports and Amsterdam's Schiphol Airport reopened yesterday.

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