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BC-AP--Europe News Digest, AP

September 30, 2014

TOP STORIES FROM EUROPE AT 1100 GMT

ISLAMIC STATE-HOSTAGES

SILOPI, Turkey — Truck driver Ozgur Simsek was sleeping after a fuel run to the Qayara power station in Iraq when he heard banging on the vehicle’s door and a warning that the Islamic State group had taken over the plant. Simsek said he rushed to unload his tanker’s fuel, but it was too late. Qayara’s security guards, who only moments before had been joking around with the truckers, turned on the men, donning black masks and brandishing weapons — taking all 31 Turkish men hostage. For many foreigners, being caught by the group’s fanatical fighters means months of uncertainty, torture and, eventually, a gruesome death. For Simsek and his colleagues, captivity would last just over three weeks. By Berza Simsek and Raphael Satter. UPCOMING: 1,250 words by 1300 GMT, photos, video.

FRANCE-ISLAMIC STATE

PARIS — France’s interior minister says the number of French radicals joining extremists in Syria and Iraq has soared this year, saying that justifies a tough new anti-terrorist law adopted this month. Bernard Cazeneuve said on RTL radio Tuesday that the number of French radicals in the region has grown 74 percent this year, to about 1,000 people. That figure includes those who traveled there or back and 200 people who hope to go. SENT: 130 words.

EUROPE-ECONOMY

LONDON — Inflation across the 18 countries that use the euro dipped further toward zero in September, official figures showed Tuesday, a move that’s likely to maintain pressure on the European Central Bank to back further stimulus measures. In its first estimate, the EU’s statistics office, Eurostat, said consumer prices in the eurozone rose only 0.3 percent in the year to September against the previous month’s 0.4 percent. By Pan Pylas. SENT: 490 words.

EUROPE-APPLE-TAX PROBE

BRUSSELS — The European Union’s competition watchdog says tax rebates that Ireland granted iPhone maker Apple appear to amount to illegal state aid and may have to be recouped. Apple Inc. funnels the bulk of its international sales through subsidiaries in Ireland, where it benefits from low, negotiated tax deals. By Juergen Baetz. SENT: 130 words. UPCOMING: 500 words by 1130 GMT.

GERMANY-LUFTHANSA STRIKE

BERLIN — Pilots on Lufthansa’s long-haul fleet have started a 15-hour walkout at the airline’s main Frankfurt hub in a festering contract dispute. The Vereinigung Cockpit union called members out on strike from 8 a.m. (0600 GMT) Tuesday in its fourth limited several-hour walkout over recent weeks and the first since a new round of talks collapsed last week. SENT: 130 words.

BRITAIN-RBS

LONDON — Taxpayer-owned Royal Bank of Scotland says strong economic conditions are boosting its finances and that it expects to take a smaller hit from bad investments this year. The bank, which was rescued by the British taxpayer during the 2008 financial crisis, issued an unscheduled trading update on Tuesday to report it would “significantly outperform” its previous guidance of 1 billion pounds ($1.6 billion) in impairment charges. It says it now expects to put aside only half a billion pounds for bad loans. SENT: 130 words.

GERMANY-ECONOMY

BERLIN — Germany’s unemployment rate dipped to 6.5 percent in September as hiring picked up after the summer break. The Federal Labor Agency said Tuesday the unadjusted jobless rate fell from 6.7 percent in August, with 2.808 million people registered unemployed. That’s 94,000 fewer than in August and 41,000 fewer than last September. SENT: 130 words.

BRITAIN-ECONOMY

LONDON — The U.K. economy grew faster in the second quarter than previously estimated, with official figures revising up the quarter-on-quarter growth rate by 0.1 percentage points to 0.9 percent. The Office for National Statistics revision came at the same time as officials put into place data and methodological changes meant to make Britain comply with international norms. SENT: 130 words.

ALBANIA-WORLD BANK

TIRANA, Albania — The World Bank is lending Albania $150 million (€118 million) to help overhaul its dysfunctional state-run power sector and pay for electricity imports from other Balkan states. The Energy Ministry said Tuesday the loan will also be used to boost the efficiency of bill collection from power consumers — some 400,000 of whom have been cut off over the past year for outstanding debts. SENT: 130 words, photos.

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