- - Sunday, November 7, 2010

MEXICO

At least 20 dead in drug-gang violence

CIUDAD JUAREZ | At least 20 people were killed in drug-gang violence over the weekend in this northern Mexican border city, including seven found dead outside one house.

The seven men were thought to have been at a family party when they were fatally shot Saturday night, said Arturo Sandoval, a spokesman for the attorney general’s office in Chihuahua state, where Ciudad Juarez is located. Five were found dead in a car, and the other two were shot at the entrance of the home.

There have been several such massacres in Ciudad Juarez, a city held hostage by a nearly three-year turf battle between the Juarez and Sinaloa cartels.

Ciudad Juarez, across the border from El Paso, Texas, has become one of the world’s deadliest cities in the time that the two cartels have been fighting. More than 6,500 people have been killed since the start of 2008.

IRAQ

Christians hold Mass in assaulted church

BAGHDAD | The walls were still splattered with blood and pieces of flesh as Iraqi Christians celebrated Mass on Sunday in the church that just a week before had been the scene of a horrific bloodbath in which dozens died.

Parishioners holding candles and wearing black gathered in Baghdad’s Our Lady of Salvation Church, which had been stripped bare of pews and still bore bullet holes along its walls, while overhead the chandeliers and ceilings were stained with blood.

Islamic militants took about 120 parishioners hostage last Sunday in the worst attack against the country’s Christian minority since the 2003-U.S. led invasion unleashed a torrent of violence across the country. By the end of the siege, 58 people were dead.

At the Mass, the congregants read verses from the Bible and laid out candles in the shape of a cross on the church floor, along with the names of those who died. At the front of the church were photos of the two priests killed in the attack.

GERMANY

Riot police clash with anti-nuke activists

DANNENBERG | Activists rappelled down from a high bridge, broke through police lines and chained themselves to German train tracks Sunday, trying to halt a shipment of nuclear waste as they protested Chancellor Angela Merkel’s plans to keep using nuclear energy.

The train, which set off Friday from a reprocessing plant in France, slowly headed toward the northern town of Dannenberg, where containers carrying 123 tons of reprocessed nuclear waste were to be loaded onto trucks for the final leg of their journey to a disputed storage site at Gorleben.

Riot police tried to stop up to 4,000 protesters making their way through the woods onto the tracks near Dannenberg ahead of the nuclear-waste train. Police used water cannons and pepper spray and wrestled with activists to break up the protest, but some still reached the rail line.

IVORY COAST

Opposition closes ranks in runoff vote

ABIDJAN | Opposition leaders in Ivory Coast closed ranks Sunday behind the remaining challenger to President Laurent Gbagbo in the presidential race, after efforts to force a recount of the first round failed.

Former President Henri Konan Bedie, who came third in the first round and was thus eliminated from the runoff, on Sunday called on his supporters to vote for former Prime Minister Alassane Ouattara in the second-round vote.

In a surprise move late Saturday, the Constitutional Council had announced definitive results from the Oct. 31 first round of polling that placed Mr. Gbagbo ahead.

CUBA

Cuba hits deadline to free political prisoners

HAVANA | The wives and mothers of Cuba’s most prominent political prisoners marched through the leafy streets of the capital Sunday, demanding the government honor an agreement to release their loved ones by the end of the day — or face protests and international condemnation.

With the deadline approaching and no word on the men’s fate, a standoff between President Raul Castro and the island’s small but vocal opposition community appeared imminent. One dissident vowed to start a hunger strike if the 13 prisoners are not in their homes by Monday, and a human rights leader warned the government was playing with fire.

Mr. Castro agreed following a meeting with Roman Catholic Cardinal Jamie Ortega to release 52 prisoners of conscience held since a 2003 crackdown on peaceful dissent.

The July 7 deal called for all the prisoners to be free in three to four months, a period that ended at midnight Sunday.

AUSTRALIA

Engine woes ground Qantas superjumbos

SYDNEY | Qantas engineers discovered new problems with three Rolls-Royce engines on its Airbus A380s that will keep its fleet of superjumbos grounded for a few more days, the airline’s CEO said Monday.

Australia’s national carrier grounded its six double-decker A380s, the world’s newest and largest airliner, after an engine burst minutes into a flight from Singapore to Sydney last week, scattering debris and forcing an emergency landing. Engineers conducted eight hours of extensive checks on each engine over the weekend.

“On three of the engines what we found are slight anomalies, oil where oil shouldn’t be,” Qantas CEO Alan Joyce told the Australian Broadcasting Corp. “These are new engines on new aircraft and they shouldn’t have these issues at this stage.”

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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