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World Briefs: Protests force city to scrap copper plant

- - Tuesday, July 3, 2012

BEIJING — A Chinese city announced Tuesday it has scrapped plans for a copper plant, apparently in response to thousands of people protesting the project's possible public health risks.

Shifang city in the southwestern province of Sichuan issued a statement on the Internet saying it had decided to stop the project.

The city's public security bureau earlier warned the public not to use the Internet or cellphones to organize more protests and asked those who had done so to turn themselves in within three days or face severe punishment.

Thousands of people - including high school students - concerned about pollution the plant would cause began to gather in front of the city government building and a public square Sunday night, and the protests turned bloody Monday afternoon after riot police moved in.

Public anger surged as Internet users circulated photos and videos of riot police using tear gas and batons to end the protests. Some Internet users said one protester had died.

FRANCE

Police search Sarkozy's home, offices

PARIS — French investigators searched former President Nicolas Sarkozy's home and office Tuesday as part of a probe into suspected illegal financing of his 2007 presidential campaign by the L'Oreal cosmetics heiress, an official said.

Potential legal troubles have threatened Mr. Sarkozy since he lost the presidency to Socialist Francois Hollande in May elections. Mr. Sarkozy, who lost his immunity from prosecution June 15, has denied any wrongdoing.

Judge Jean-Michel Gentil and other investigators from the Paris financial crimes unit conducted Tuesday's search of Mr. Sarkozy's home and offices, the official said. The official spoke on the condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to be publicly named discussing an ongoing investigation.

Messages left with Mr. Sarkozy's staff were not immediately returned.

The probe centers on the finances of France's richest woman, L'Oreal cosmetics heiress Liliane Bettencourt.

A long-running family feud over her fortune ballooned in 2010 into a multilayered investigation and political affair. Allegations emerged that Mrs. Bettencourt provided illegal campaign cash to Mr. Sarkozy's party during the 2007 campaign. Mr. Sarkozy has vigorously denied the claims.

MYANMAR

Myanmar frees political prisoners

YANGON — Myanmar's reformist government freed more than a dozen political prisoners Tuesday, but opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi called for the release of hundreds more still behind bars.

Zaw Thet Htwe, who monitors prisoner releases for the opposition, said more than 20 of 46 detainees granted amnesties by President Thein Sein were political detainees, and he was able to confirm that 14 had indeed been freed.

Freedom for political prisoners is a benchmark used by Western nations critical of Myanmar's former military regime to judge Thein Sein's administration.

Previous releases have been a major factor in decisions by those nations to ease economic and political embargoes they placed on the previous government for its poor human rights record and undemocratic rule.

MEXICO

Car bomb in north kills 2, wounds 7

CIUDAD VICTORIA — A powerful car bomb exploded outside the home of the top police official of the northern Mexico border state of Tamaulipas early Tuesday, killing two policemen and injuring four officers and three civilians.

Tamaulipas state Interior Secretary Morelos Canseco said Public Safety Secretary Rafael Lomeli wasn't injured in the blast, but that three neighbors were injured by glass fragments from shattered windows. Mr. Canseco said the attack appears to be a reprisal by criminal gangs.

Almost a half-dozen car-bomb attacks have occurred in recent years Tamaulipas, where the Gulf cartel is battling the rival Zetas gang, but it is the first bombing in the state to cause significant casualties.

Mr. Canseco said the bomb was detonated with a cellphone soon after Mr. Lomeli arrived at his home. He said the car bomb showed an increased sophistication, both in the detonator and explosives used.

INDIA

People return home as floodwater recedes

GAUHATI — Thousands of hungry and exhausted people waded through water and returned to their mud-filled homes after leaving relief camps Tuesday as floodwater began to recede in remote northeastern India.

Nearly half a million people took refuge in camps set up in government buildings as the worst monsoon flooding to hit Assam state in a decade devastated the region, killing 95 people and leaving 14 others missing since the flooding began last week.

Soldiers were using helicopters and speedboats to supply food and drinking water to the nearly 2 million people affected by the flooding, Army Lt. Col. N.N. Joshi said Tuesday.

From wire dispatches and staff reports