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World Briefs: U.N. chief arrives to promote reforms

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YANGON — U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon arrived Sunday in Myanmar to see how the world body can help promote the country's tentative steps toward democratic reform.

Mr. Ban will meet President Thein Sein and visit a U.N. drug-control project during the three-day visit. He also will pay his respects at the tomb of U Thant, a Myanmar diplomat who was U.N. secretary-general from 1961 to 1971.

His visit is the latest in a series by foreign dignitaries since Thein Sein's reform campaign gathered steam by winning the endorsement of the leader of Myanmar's democracy movement, formerly jailed Aung San Suu Kyi. Thein Sein came to power a year ago after a general election that left the military in firm control but signaled a desire for political reconciliation.

CUBA

Police free dissident arrested after papal visit

HAVANA — Police in Cuba on Sunday released Jose Daniel Ferrer, a political dissident arrested shortly after the visit to the communist-run island by Pope Benedict XVI.

"They released me around 1:00 p.m.," Mr. Ferrer, 41, said by telephone from his home in the town of Palmarito de Cauto. "Physically, I don't feel well, but my spirits are high."

Mr. Ferrer, leader of the banned Patriotic Union of Cuba, was arrested April 2 along with 42 other activists in a crackdown on protesters in Santiago de Cuba after the pope visited the island. The group was arrested after protesting the detention of a dissident who chanted anti-government slogans during the late March visit.

Mr. Ferrer said that police told him he could wait at home for a trial on disorderly-conduct charges, although no date has been set. The police also warned that they would be monitoring him.

MEXICO

Race-yacht debris found; all 4 crew missing or dead

ENSENADA — A 37-foot racing yacht was reduced to debris that looked it "like it had gone through a blender," a searcher said Sunday after the boat apparently collided with a larger vessel, killing three sailors and leaving a fourth missing.

The U.S. Coast Guard, the Mexican navy and civilian vessels scoured the waters off the shore of both countries for the missing sailor from the Aegean, which was taking part in a 124-mile race that began Friday from Newport Beach, Calif., to Ensenada, Mexico.

Race officials said they had few explanations for what may have happened to the Aegean other than it must have collided with ship like a freighter or tanker that did not see the smaller vessel.

The race goes through shipping lanes, and it's possible for a large ship to hit a sailboat and not even know it, especially at night, said Rich Roberts, a spokesman for the Newport Ocean Sailing Association, the race organizer.

MALI

Al Qaeda affiliate threatens Algerian hostages' lives

BAMAKO — An al Qaeda offshoot that has abducted seven Algerian diplomats in northern Mali warned Sunday that the hostages' lives are in danger.

The Movement for Unity and Jihad in West Africa, which kidnapped the men on April 5 at their consulate in the northern city of Gao, issued the warning in comments to Agence France-Presse, after negotiations with Algeria.

The terrorist group's spokesman, Adnan Abu Walid Sahraoui, did not elaborate on what demands the Islamist kidnappers were making.

Various Islamist groups and Tuareg rebels have seized control of much of northern Mali in recent weeks in a campaign that rapidly gained pace after an army coup on March 22 in the capital, Bamako, in Mali's south.

SUDAN

Sudan: Detained foreigners have military ties

KHARTOUM — Sudan has claimed three foreigners arrested in a disputed area on the border with South Sudan had military hardware and an armored vehicle.

But a representative for one of the three said Sunday that they were on a humanitarian mine-clearing mission.

A Briton, a Norwegian, a South African and a South Sudanese were captured by Sudanese troops Saturday in the oil-rich region of Heglig.

The arrests are the latest sign of spiking tensions along the disputed border, where clashes have raged in recent weeks. The violence has brought the two nations, already at odds over demarcating the border and dividing oil revenue, to the brink of war.

RUSSIA

Activist detained for anti-Putin prayer

MOSCOW — An opposition activist was detained and beaten Sunday after he tried to enter Moscow's landmark Christ the Savior Cathedral to pray to deliver Russia from President-elect Vladimir Putin.

Several riot police officers forced Roman Dobrokhotov into a police car just feet from Russia's largest church, widely seen as a symbol of resurgent Orthodox Christianity after seven decades of atheist communist rule.

Mr. Dobrokhotov, who leads a small anti-Kremlin youth movement, heckled President Dmitry Medvedev during his speech in the Kremlin in 2008.

Another activist, Mariya Baronova of the Resistance anti-Kremlin group, entered the cathedral, but she was cornered by a group of Orthodox priests and men who tried to escort her out.

KENYA

Official: Grenade kills 1 in church attack

NAIROBI — One person died and 15 people were wounded when a grenade was thrown into a church in Kenya's capital during Sunday service, an official said, an attack some parishioners blamed on a land dispute in the East African metropolis.

Nairobi Deputy Police Chief Moses Ombati said the grenade exploded at God's House of Miracles International Church in Nairobi.

Doctors at Nairobi's Kenyatta Hospital said they had treated 11 patients wounded in the attack. None of the injuries was life-threatening.

The incident is the latest in a string of grenade attacks since Kenya sent troops into Somalia in October last year.

SYRIA

Head of U.N. mission urges halt to violence

BEIRUT — The head of the U.N. observer mission in Syria on Sunday called on President Bashar Assad and the country's opposition to stop fighting and allow a tenuous cease-fire to take hold.

Norwegian Maj. Gen. Robert Mood spoke after arriving in the Syrian capital Damascus to take charge of an advance team of 16 U.N. monitors trying to salvage an international peace plan to end the country's 13-month-old crisis.

Under the plan, a cease-fire is supposed to lead to talks between Mr. Assad and the opposition on a political solution to a conflict that has killed more than 9,000 people.

Gen. Mood told reporters that the 300 observers the U.N. has authorized for the mission "cannot solve all the problems" in Syria, and asked for cooperation from forces loyal to Mr. Assad as well as rebels seeking to end his rule.

The cease-fire began unraveling almost as soon as it went into effect April 12.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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