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The men refused, triggering an hourlong gunbattle during which two attackers were fatally shot and the remaining four detonated vests rigged with explosives. Two civilians and three policemen were killed by the blasts, and three other police officers were wounded.

NORTH KOREA

Strong nuclear deterrent promised no matter the cost

SEOUL — North Korea said Thursday it would strengthen its nuclear deterrent and other defenses regardless of cost, amid fears it is preparing for another atomic weapons test.

“No matter what high expense the army and people of [North Korea] have to cover, they will further bolster its defense capability including nuclear deterrence to firmly protect its dignity and sovereignty,” said a state body known as the Committee for the Peaceful Reunification of Korea.

The committee, in comments on the official news agency, vowed not to be deceived by offers from hostile forces that it could get benefits in return for abandoning nuclear weapons and suspending missile launches.

CHINA

Restrictions tightened on activist Chen’s family

BEIJING — Authorities in the hometown of blind activist Chen Guangcheng have notched up restrictions on members of his extended family while he awaits permission in Beijing to travel abroad under an agreement between China and the U.S.

Mr. Chen’s brother and sister-in-law have been placed under house arrest, his nephew is in police detention, and another half-dozen relatives face some form of restriction on their movements in their village in Shandong province, according to Mr. Chen, his attorneys and a rights group.

Mr. Chen’s flight from house arrest in Shandong and into the protection of U.S. diplomats - which led to an agreement with Beijing to let him study in the U.S. accompanied by his wife and children - has exposed the impunity of local officials and embarrassed the central government.

• From wire dispatches and staff reports