Germany: Date-drug raids

BERLIN — Police searching for chemicals used to make the date-rape drug GHB raided some 600 homes and offices in Austria, Switzerland and Germany on Wednesday, German investigators said.

The raids followed months of investigation that started after police became suspicious of online orders for GBL, a chemical found in industrial cleaners, Bavarian state investigators said.

The legal chemical can be used to manufacture GHB, a potent depressant sometimes called the date-rape drug.

Germany: Climbers kidnapped

Three German climbers were kidnapped by Kurdish rebels high on Mount Ararat — where many believe Noah's Ark came to rest — and Turkish troops have launched an operation to rescue them, an official said Wednesday.

Mehmet Cetin, the governor of Turkey's Agri province, said the members of a 13-person German climbing party were abducted late Tuesday from their camp at 10,500 feet on the mountain in far eastern Turkey near the Iranian border, the Dogan news agency reported.

The three men from Bavaria — who are 33, 47 and 65 — seemed to have been picked out at random by the kidnappers, Bavaria's state interior minister said.

Ireland: Airport delays

DUBLIN — More than 200 flights at Dublin Airport were delayed, diverted or canceled Wednesday after air traffic controllers deemed their radar system too malfunction-prone to operate safely.

The Irish Aviation Authority barred aircraft from landing at Ireland's largest airport for about two hours after the radar system failed to display the call signs that normally identify each incoming aircraft. The chaos left thousands of passengers scattered at other airports throughout Ireland.

Vatican City: Running a deficit

The Vatican ran a deficit in 2007, hurt by the weak dollar in generous collection baskets from U.S. faithful and steep costs of running its media, the Holy See said Wednesday.

The Vatican issued financial figures showing a nearly $13.5 million deficit last year.

It cited the sharp drop in the exchange rate for the U.S. dollar. The Vatican in Rome pays many of its expenses in euros, a currency which has soared against the U.S. dollar.

West Bank: Israel criticized

NABLUS — The Palestinian prime minister charged Wednesday that Israeli military operations in the West Bank are hindering his administration's campaign to improve security in the territory.

Such operations "undermine grossly our efforts aimed at rebuilding our capacity and re-establishing law and order," Falam Fayyad said at a news conference he held in the West Bank city of Ramallah with visiting Italian Foreign Minister Franco Frattini.

Hours later, Israeli forces fatally shot a wanted Hamas militant trying to escape arrest in Kufr Dan, near the city of Nablus, Army Radio reported.