Al-Qaida leader killed in strike in Afghanistan

KABUL, Afghanistan — A NATO airstrike killed a senior al-Qaida commander in eastern Afghanistan, officials said Wednesday, as Pakistan investigated reports that a separate CIA drone-launched missile killed the insurgents' No. 3 commander.

The attacks could be a serious blow to the terrorist network's capabilities in the region, and come as the U.S. has escalated strikes by unmanned drones in Pakistan's volatile border region in an effort to disrupt suspected terrorist plots in Europe, a Western counterterrorism official said in Washington.

It wasn't known whether the drone attacks were related specifically to a terrorist plot against Britain, France and Germany that European authorities said they intercepted.

Tropical Storm Nicole strikes Jamaica

KINGSTON, Jamaica — Tropical Storm Nicole caused flooding and mudslides across Jamaica on Wednesday, leaving two confirmed dead and at least 12 more missing, even as the drenching system moved north and dissipated over the Florida straits.

The outer bands of the storm hammered Jamaica, toppling bridges and knocking out power to thousands. Many streets were filled with gushing brown torrents of water, prompting Prime Minister Bruce Golding to urge people to stay indoors.

Two earthquakes hit waters off Indonesia

JAKARTA, Indonesia — Two powerful earthquakes hit waters off eastern Indonesia in rapid succession today, prompting officials to briefly trigger a tsunami warning.

The U.S. Geological Survey said a 7.2 magnitude quake off Papua province, centered just 7 miles beneath the ocean floor, struck less than a minute after a 6.6 temblor in the same location.

Several strong aftershocks followed.