SANAA, Yemen

U.S. airstrike causes death of senior al-Qaida leader

An airstrike Sunday killed a top al-Qaida leader on the FBI’s most wanted list for his role in the 2000 bombing of the USS Cole, Yemeni officials said. The drone attack was carried out by the CIA, U.S. officials said.

Fahd al-Quso was hit by a missile as he stepped out of his vehicle, in the southern Shabwa province, Yemeni military officials said. They spoke on condition of anonymity in accordance with military regulations.

The drone strike that killed al-Quso was carried out by the CIA, after an extended surveillance operation by the CIA and U.S. military, two U.S. officials said. They spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak to the media.

The strike was authorized by the Yemeni government, which then made the announcement after the operation was complete, the officials said, part of the U.S. strategy to give the host government more public ownership of the operation.

Al-Quso, 37, was on the FBI’s most wanted list, with a $5 million reward for information leading to his capture. He was indicted in the U.S. for his role in the bombing of the Cole in the harbor of Aden, Yemen, in which 17 American sailors were killed.

The White House and the State Department had no immediate comment.

LOUISVILLE, Ky.

Authorities: Man found dead at Derby track worked there

Authorities say a man whose body was found early Sunday in a barn at Churchill Downs hours after the Kentucky Derby worked at the racetrack.

The victim was identified Sunday as Adan Fabian Perez, 48, a Guatemala native, according to Jo-Ann Farmer, chief deputy coroner for Jefferson County.

Farmer said the victim was identified by his 19-year-old son, who also works at the track.

“There’s a suspicion of foul play,” Farmer said Sunday evening. An autopsy is scheduled for today.

Louisville Metro Police say the death is being investigated as a homicide, but there appears to be no connection to the track or to the Kentucky Derby.

TBILISI, Georgia

Orthodox patriarch baptizes 400 babies in mass ceremony

The patriarch of the Georgian Orthodox Church presided over the baptism of 400 babies in a Tbilisi cathedral Sunday as part of an effort credited with helping raise the birth rate in this former Soviet nation.

Patriarch Ilia II has promised to become the godfather of all babies born into Orthodox Christian families who already have two or more children. Since he began the mass baptisms in 2008, he has gained nearly 11,000 godchildren.

Georgian President Mikhail Saakashvili has said the patriarch deserves much of the credit for the rising birth rate, which in 2010 was 25 percent higher than in 2005. The number of abortions also fell by nearly half over the same five-year period.

Lamara Georgadze, whose fourth child was among those baptized Sunday, said she and her husband answered the patriarch’s call to have more children. “The Holy Father reminded us all of the importance of increasing the birth rate,” she said.

Saakashvili has set a goal of increasing Georgia’s population from 4.5 million to 5 million by 2015.

NASHVILLE, Tenn.

Actor George Lindsey, TV’s ‘Goober Pyle,’ dies at 83

George Lindsey, who made a TV career as a grinning service station attendant named Goober on “The Andy Griffith Show” and “Hee Haw,” has died. He was 83.

Nashville’s Marshall-Donnelly-Combs Funeral Home said Lindsay died early Sunday after a brief illness.

Lindsey was the beanie-wearing Goober on “The Andy Griffith Show” from 1964 to 1968 and its successor, “Mayberry RFD,” from 1968 to 1971. He played the same jovial character on “Hee Haw” from 1971 until it went out of production in 1993.

He joined “The Andy Griffith Show” in 1964 when Jim Nabors, portraying Gomer Pyle, left the program. 

“At that time, we were the best acting ensemble on TV,” Lindsey once told an interviewer. “The scripts were terrific. Andy is the best script constructionist I’ve ever been involved with. And you have to lift your acting level up to his; he’s awfully good.”

In a statement, Griffith said, “George Lindsey was my friend. I had great respect for his talent and his human spirit.

“In recent years, we spoke often by telephone. Our last conversation was a few days ago … I am happy to say that as we found ourselves in our eighties, we were not afraid to say, ‘I love you.’ That was the last thing George and I had to say to each other. ‘I love you.’ “

Born in Jasper, Ala., Lindsey earned his bachelor’s degree in 1952, served three years in the Air Force and worked as a high school history teacher for a year.

In 1956, he attended the American Theatre Wing in New York City and began his professional career on Broadway, appearing in the musicals “All American” and “Wonderful Town.”