CARACAS, Venezuela

Prisoners die of overdoses after storming infirmary

Venezuela’s government said at least 13 prisoners died of drug overdoses after inmates stormed a prison infirmary during protests demanding better living conditions, though activists on Thursday questioned the official version and said the death toll could be far higher.

The disturbances at the David Viloria penitentiary began Monday when a group of inmates went on a hunger strike seeking to force out the jail’s new warden, the Prisons Ministry said.

National Guardsmen were called in to restore calm and dozens of prisoners were transferred. The government said 145 inmates were being treated for intoxication.

The situation remained tense Thursday, and prisoner rights activists expressed doubt about the government’s version, calling for an investigation to determine why inmates would have voluntarily taken highly toxic medicines.


Despite resignation, Hagel telephones troops overseas

Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel, following a whirlwind few days in which he resigned as Pentagon chief, carried through on a holiday tradition of his Thursday: Making phone calls to a handful of U.S. service members who are overseas.

Hagel made the calls four days after President Obama announced Hagel’s resignation. He has quietly made phone calls to rank-and-file troops on holidays throughout his tenure in the Pentagon.

Hagel called a Marine in Liberia, a soldier in Afghanistan, an Air Force pilot in Kuwait and a sailor aboard the USS O’Kane, a Navy destroyer, the official said. They were selected by their services to take the call.

“With everything going on with him, him even taking the time out of his day to call was awesome,” said Marine Sgt. Matthew S. Ohler, 24, who has been in Liberia since the summer maintaining MV-22B Osprey aircraft that ferry medical supplies as part of the effort to control the Ebola virus.


Israel exposes Hamas’ plot, arrests more than 30 people

Israel uncovered a West Bank network of Hamas militants planning a series of large-scale attacks against Israelis in Jerusalem and other locations, the country’s domestic security agency said Thursday.

The targets were to include Jerusalem’s soccer stadium and light-rail system, and the militants were also instructed to abduct Israelis in the West Bank and abroad and carry out car bombings and other attacks, according to Shin Bet, the agency.

The plot was exposed in an investigation sparked by a two bombs that were set off by a timer in the West Bank in late August, the agency reported to local media and on its website. The blasts caused no injuries.

There was no response from Hamas to the arrests of more than 30 suspects.


United Flight 93 memorial damaged in fatal collision

A car has crashed into a Pennsylvania chapel honoring the Sept. 11 victims of United Airlines Flight 93, temporarily closing it.

State police said the car hit a chapel wall after a two-vehicle accident Tuesday. They said the accident killed a woman.

The chapel in Stonycreek Township is a spiritual memorial to the 40 victims of Flight 93, which crashed in a nearby field on Sept. 11, 2001, after being hijacked by terrorists.

The chapel is overseen by the Most Rev. Ramzi Musallam. He says an engineer will need to assess the damage before visitors can be allowed back in.

– From news service reports