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BRAZIL

Police force increased after gangs rob drivers

RIO DE JANEIRO | Brazilian officials sent 1,200 extra police into the streets of Rio de Janeiro on Tuesday to halt an upsurge of roadblocks and mass robberies by gangs that they say are challenging police for control of slums.

The military-run police announced they had ordered the officers off of desk work and into the streets to quell the attacks that have renewed concerns about security for the 2014 World Cup and 2016 Olympics.

Rio has been hit by a spike in violence since Sunday, with at least five mass robberies of motorists on key highways, including the one leading to the international airport.

Witnesses say the armed men have blocked roadways with cars, then moved down the line of trapped vehicles, yanking people from their cars and robbing them in broad daylight. One man who resisted was fatally shot in a poor area of northern Rio, police said.

NIGERIA

Presidential vote to be held April 9

ABUJA | Nigeria’s electoral commission announced Tuesday that presidential elections will be held in the oil-rich nation on April 9.

The vote was initially scheduled to be held in January, but it was postponed over concerns the electoral commission would not be ready and there would not be enough time to register an estimated 70 million registered voters.

Independent National Electoral Commission Chairman Attahiru Jega made the announcement late Tuesday.

Nigeria, home to 150 million people, has conducted a string of criticized elections since becoming a democracy more than a decade ago.

NEW ZEALAND

Drill breakthrough in mine rescue

GREYMOUTH | Rescue efforts got a boost Wednesday with a drill breakthrough at the New Zealand coal mine where 29 miners were caught in a methane-fueled explosion on Friday. Nothing has been heard from the miners since.

The drill hole 530 feet deep into the mine broke through the mine’s main tunnel roof, causing “hot air and gases to rush up,” Pike River Coal Ltd. Chairman John Dow said.

ARUBA

Holloway’s mom accepts investigation finding

ORANJESTAD | A lawyer for Natalee Holloway’s mother says she accepts the conclusions from authorities in Aruba, who say the jawbone that was found on a beach there does not belong to the missing Alabama teenager.

Dutch investigators compared the lone tooth on the bone with dental records, and say it couldn’t have come from the girl who disappeared during a high school graduation trip to Aruba in 2005.

AUSTRIA

Panel recommends return of 7 works

VIENNA | A panel has recommended that seven paintings by Austrian artists contained in a prestigious Vienna art collection be returned because they were either seized by the Nazis or given up against the will of their Jewish owners.

The paintings — five by Egon Schiele of the 20th century and two by Anton Romako, a 19th-century artist — belong to the Leopold Museum Private Foundation.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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