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June 21, 2012 at 8:01 AM
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Syrian pilot defects with jet to Jordan

AMMAN, Jordan, June 21 (UPI) -- A Syrian air force pilot flew his MiG-21 fighter to Jordan Thursday and asked for political asylum, Jordanian officials said.

"The jet fighter landed at 10:45 a.m. and the government is currently considering the pilot's request," Samih Maaytah, the Jordanian Minister of Media Affairs and Communication, told The Jordan Times. Maaytah said the pilot landed the jet at the Mafraq air base.

The official Syrian Arab News Agency identified the pilot as Col. Hassan Mirei al-Hamda and said he was on a training mission near the border with Jordan when all communications were lost at 10:34 a.m.

Jordanian military sources told the newspaper Jordanian air force jets accompanied the Syrian plane when it entered Jordan's airspace.

CIA joins allies helping Syrian opposition

DAMASCUS, Syria, June 21 (UPI) -- Allies in southern Turkey helping Syrian opposition fighters have been joined by a small number of CIA officers, U.S. and Arab officials said.

The officials told the New York Times the CIA officers are helping the allies decide which Syrian opposition fighters across the border will receive arms to fight the Syrian government.

The arms are being funneled mostly across the Turkish border by a network of intermediaries that include Syria's Muslim Brotherhood. They are paid for by Turkey, Saudi Arabia and Qatar, the Times reported Thursday.

A senior U.S. official said the CIA officers have been in southern Turkey for several weeks, in part to keep weapons out of the hands of al-Qaida and other terrorist groups.

The Syrian Network for Human Rights reported a number of extra judicial executions of civilians by military forces Thursday including three in the Damascus suburb of Douma.

Explosives found at Swedish nuclear plant

GOTHENBURG, Sweden, June 21 (UPI) -- Swedish nuclear facilities were placed on alert Thursday after explosives were found at the Ringhals nuclear power plant, the Radiation Safety Authority said.

Authority spokesperson Maria Strahle told the Swedish news agency TT the threat level was raised as a precaution following the incident at the plant south of Gothenburg.

An explosive device was found Wednesday afternoon on a large truck that was returning to the reactor area from an industrial estate belonging to the nuclear power plant.

"Under the first step onto the truck there is a fire extinguisher and that is where the explosive had been placed," said Gosta Larsen of the Ringhals plant.

Larsen told TT the device was the size of a small fist.

Police have no suspects but truck drivers and officers are being questioned, officials said. The explosive device was sent to Sweden's National Laboratory of Forensic Science for testing.

The incident has been classified as suspected sabotage.

Military aircraft crashes in Indonesia

JAKARTA, June 21 (UPI) -- An Indonesian military aircraft crashed into a housing complex near an airport in East Jakarta Thursday, killing at least six people, police said.

The Fokker 27 turboprop was on a training flight when it went down near the Halim Perdanakusuma military airport, Sky News reported. A sixth crew member on the aircraft was critically injured. No civilian victims were immediately found.

The Fokker 27 plane apparently ran into a problem while trying to land, the Jakarta Globe reported.

Fire engines and ambulances were dispatched to the scene where at least a half-dozen houses were reportedly on fire.

A spokesman for Indonesia's National Search and Rescue Agency said there was no immediate word on how many people were aboard the military plane.

The crash occurred at the Rajawali housing complex near the airport, The Jakarta Post reported.

Romney to talk economy to Latino group

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla., June 21 (UPI) -- Mitt Romney's speech to Latino politicians in Florida will focus on how the down economy affects Hispanics, a Romney aid said, deflecting immigration questions.

The presumptive Republican presidential nominee's speech to the National Association of Latino Elected Officials Thursday "will have a few more things to say about immigration," but much of the message will focus on the Romney campaign's message that Hispanic Americans are suffering more than other groups in the struggling economy under Obama administration policies, Romney Policy Director Lanhee Chen told reporters on a conference call.

President Barack Obama, who is to address the group Friday, announced last week he would allow many young people who came to the United States illegally as children to stay and apply for work permits.

The Latino officials group has endorsed the new policy, which has also won broad support in public-opinion polls.

Romney said last weekend he would prefer to seek a long-term solution, but has not said whether he would reverse Obama's order if he became president.

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