Afghans to take over U.S.-run Bagram prison

KABUL — The Afghan government agreed Saturday on a transition plan to take over responsibility for the U.S.-run prison at the Bagram air base following criticism of human rights abuses at the facility. U.S. and Afghan officials said the handover could occur by the end of the year.

Treatment of inmates at the facility has been under scrutiny since the 2002 deaths at Bagram of two Afghan detainees, which led to prisoner abuse charges against several American troops. Concerns about lengthy detentions also have drawn comparisons with U.S. detention centers in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, and in Iraq.

President Hamid Karzai has said he wants operations at Bagram to be re-evaluated and has called for the release of inmates being held without evidence. He said arrests are turning ordinary Afghans against U.S. and NATO forces.

The U.S. military welcomed the memorandum of understanding signed by senior Afghan officials on Saturday, saying the facility could be handed over to Afghan control by the end of the year.

Europe struggling with blast of winter

BERLIN — A plane slid off an icy runway and powerful winds and heavy snow forced hundreds of flight cancellations across Europe on Saturday as blasts of freezing cold buffeted Europe.

An Air Berlin plane slid off the runway in Nuremberg, Germany, and got stuck in the snow late Friday. Nobody was injured.

In Britain, cold winds swept in from the north, sending temperatures tumbling to 7 degrees Fahrenheit in parts of Scotland and northern England. The country is in the midst of its longest cold snap in three decades, and transport has been disrupted in many areas.