UK police help return stolen sculptures to Indian temple

LONDON — British police said Wednesday that three historically and religiously important bronze sculptures are being returned to a temple in India from which they were stolen.

Police said in a statement that the works were removed in 1978 from a temple in the Tanjavur district of Tamil Nadu. Although the thieves were caught and convicted in India, the bronzes remained missing for the next four decades.

The High Commission of India in London tweeted photos of the bronzes, describing them as “priceless” statues from the Vijayanagara period, which dated from the 14th to the 17th century.

In 2019, the High Commission alerted specialist art and antiques detectives at the Metropolitan Police that one of the sculptures was being offered for sale by a U.K.-based dealer.

Police said the dealer had bought the sculpture in good faith and no criminal offence was committed. The dealer agreed to send it back to India, and also identified and surrendered the other two missing idols.

Minn. man faces charge for allegedly joining IS

MINNEAPOLIS — A Minnesota man who is accused of joining the Islamic State group in Syria has been returned to the United States to face terrorism charges.

Abdelhamid Al-Madioum made his first court appearance in U.S. District Court in Minnesota on Wednesday. Authorities say he was vacationing with his family in Morocco in 2015 when he secretly booked a flight to Istanbul, Turkey, and then traveled to Syria. He’s charged with providing material support to a foreign terrorist organization.

Al-Madioum was recently in a prison in northern Syria with alleged IS fighters, according to news reports.

More than 20 workers hurt in crane accident

AUSTIN, Texas — Two cranes collided Wednesday at a construction site in Austin, Texas, causing one of them to partially collapse and injuring at least 22 workers who were sent scrambling for safety, authorities said.

The cranes collided and got tangled several stories above a building under construction a few miles north of downtown in a rapidly growing neighborhood that includes residential, retail and office space. The development also includes a children’s hospital near the accident site.

Austin-Travis County EMS spokesman Darren Noak said at a news conference that 22 workers were hurt, including 16 who were taken to hospitals with non-life-threatening injuries. The cause of the accident was still under investigation.

5 Chinese citizens charged in global hacking campaign

WASHINGTON — The Justice Department has charged five Chinese citizens with hacks targeting more than 100 companies and institutions in the United States and elsewhere, including social media and video game companies as well as universities and telecommunications providers, officials said Wednesday.

The five defendants remain fugitives, but prosecutors say two Malaysian businessmen charged with conspiring with the alleged hackers to profit off the attacks on the billion-dollar video game industry were arrested in Malaysia this week and face extradition proceedings.

The indictments are part of a broader effort by the Trump administration to call out cybercrimes by China. In July, prosecutors accused hackers of working with the Chinese government to target companies developing vaccines for the coronavirus and of stealing hundreds of millions of dollars worth of intellectual property and trade secrets from companies across the world.

Suga named Japan’s prime minister, succeeding Abe

TOKYO — Japan’s Parliament elected Yoshihide Suga as prime minister Wednesday, replacing long-serving leader Shinzo Abe with his right-hand man.

Suga bowed deeply several times when the results were announced, as fellow governing party lawmakers applauded in parliament’s more powerful lower house. He was also confirmed in the upper house.

Suga, who was chief Cabinet secretary and the top government spokesman under Abe, selected a Cabinet with a mix of fresh faces and current or former ministers, a lineup that suggests a continuation of Abe’s influence while reflecting Suga’s pledge of administrative reforms.

— The Associated Press