MUZAFARABAD, PAKISTAN 

Military says it shot

down Indian warplanes

Pakistan's military said Wednesday it shot down two Indian warplanes in the disputed region of Kashmir and captured a pilot, answering an airstrike a day earlier by Indian fighter jets inside Pakistan and raising tensions between the nuclear-armed rivals to a level unseen in two decades.

Within hours Pakistan's Prime Minister Imran Khan went on television urging peace talks with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, saying both countries needed to step back from the brink and warning that "miscalculations" could drag their two countries into a war that neither side would benefit from.

 

RALEIGH, N.C.

GOP political operative

faces election charges  

The political operative at the center of an election fraud scandal that has engulfed a North Carolina congressional race was arrested Wednesday on charges of illegal ballot handling and conspiracy. Four people working for him were also charged.

Leslie McCrae Dowless Jr., 63, was accused of directing workers to collect and mail in other people's absentee ballots during the 2018 Republican congressional primary and the 2016 general election. It is against the law in North Carolina for anyone other than the voter or a close relative to handle a mail-in ballot, a measure aimed at guarding against manipulation.

 

SAN DIEGO

Government to destroy

border wall prototypes

The government is demolishing eight prototypes of Donald Trump's prized border wall that instantly became powerful symbols of his presidency when they were built nine months after he took office.

The Trump administration says elements of the prototypes have been melded into current border fence designs and they have served their purpose. The four concrete and four steel panels were built near the existing barrier separating San Diego and Tijuana, Mexico.

 

GUERNEVILLE, CALIF.

Floodwaters cut off city,

town in wine country 

Two communities in Northern California's wine country were accessible only by boat Wednesday after a rain-swollen river overflowed its banks following a relentless downpour across an already waterlogged region.

The small city of Guerneville north of San Francisco "is officially an island," with the overflowing Russian River forecast to hit its highest level in about 25 years, the Sonoma County Sheriff's Office said in a statement. The nearby town of Monte Rio was also isolated by floodwaters and all roads leading to it were swamped.

 

CHICAGO

Runoff will elect city's

first black female mayor

A former federal prosecutor and a county board leader will face each other in a runoff to become Chicago's first black female mayor after leading a large field Tuesday that included a member of the Daley family that has dominated the city's politics for much of the last six decades.

Political outsider Lori Lightfoot, who was a federal prosecutor in northern Illinois, and Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle were the top two vote-getters among 14 candidates, but neither received more than the 50 percent needed to avoid an April 2 runoff. The winner will succeed Mayor Rahm Emanuel to lead the nation's third-largest city. Emanuel did not seek re-election.

 

ABUJA, NIGERIA 

President defends win

as rival promises fight

Nigeria's president on Wednesday defended his sweeping win of a second term as free and fair and appealed to a "common love of country" as his top challenger vowed to go to court with allegations of fraud.

President Muhammadu Buhari was declared the clear winner by nearly 4 million votes.

Top opposition candidate Atiku Abubakar, a billionaire former vice president, quickly rejected the result of what he called a "sham election" and said next steps would be revealed shortly.

 

GREENVILLE, S.C.

Girl Scout cookie buyer

arrested on drug charges

A South Carolina man who bought more than 120 boxes of Girl Scouts cookies to help the scouts escape the cold has been arrested on drug charges.

News outlets reported the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency said 46-year-old Detric Lee McGowan was arrested Tuesday on charges including conspiracy to distribute fentanyl and cocaine. The agency says McGowan is the same man who appeared in a photo that garnered thousands of views and shares online.

 

Beacon Journal/Ohio.com wires