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Wildlife specialists from across Africa said in a Tuesday statement they would lobby for harsher penalties and fines for people involved in the illegal rhino horn trade.

In a meeting in Nairobi, wildlife specialists and private conservation groups also resolved to reach out to the governments of countries where there is demand for the rhino horn and work with them to create stringent laws against the trade.

China and Vietnam are some of the destination markets for the horn, which is believed to have medicinal qualities.

Last year, 448 rhinos were killed in South Africa, which has the largest rhino population in the world. Conservationists say this year poachers have killed 135 rhinos there.

MYANMAR

President calls elections won by Suu Kyi’s party ‘successful’

PHNOM PENH, Cambodia — Myanmar’s president said Tuesday that elections won by democracy icon Aung San Suu Kyi and her party were successful, issuing the first government endorsement of the historic polls.

When asked by the Associated Press if he thought the weekend by-elections were free and fair, President Thein Sein said: “It was conducted in a very successful manner.”

Mr. Thein Sein’s remark was the first comment by a top government official since Sunday’s polls. He spoke on the sidelines of a summit in Cambodia of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, which gave him a vote of confidence Tuesday.

LIBYA

Clashes in rival towns kill 22 in western Libya

TRIPOLI — Militias from rival towns in western Libya battled each other with tanks and artillery on Tuesday in fierce fighting that killed at least 22 people, local officials said.

The clashes erupted over the weekend between the Arab-majority town of Ragdalein and the Berber-dominated town of Zwara, some 70 miles west of the capital, Tripoli.

The violence is fueled by deep-rooted animosity between the neighbors, who took different sides in Libya’s civil war that toppled Moammar Gadhafi last year.

The fighting is the latest in a series of local rivalries that threaten to divide Libya along tribal and regional lines.

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