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Around the world

Around the world

POWS FREED: Two former Red Army soldiers who had been held in captivity for nine years in Afghanistan were freed on Saturday, according to a report on state-run radio. The Defense Ministry handed over the prisoners of war to a Russian consular officer who had flown to Kabul. The two soldiers, identified as Victor Nazarob of Ukraine and Leonid Buku of Moldova, were captured by Muslim insurgents during Moscow's nine-year occupation of Afghanistan.

QUAKE ROCKS ISLANDS: A major earthquake was recorded off the east coast of the Solomon Islands early Saturday, and several hours later a second temblor shook an area near the Santa Cruz Islands in the Pacific Ocean, officials said. There were no immediate reports of damage or injuries. The U.S. Geological Survey said the first quake measured 7.0 on the Richter scale and was the largest temblor to hit the region in more than two decades.

Across the nation

PLAINTIFF DIES: A man who unsuccessfully sued cigarette maker R.J. Reynolds for at least $3.1 million, claiming the company was responsible for his lung cancer, has died. Charles Kueper was 58. The Southern Illinois man died Friday of lung cancer at his home.

SURRENDERS: A California man wanted for questioning in the Feb. 22 shooting deaths of two police officers in Compton surrendered Friday to a television news crew. Keith Terris Caldwell, 27, asked KTLA reporter Warren Wilson to help him surrender just hours after police issued an all-points bulletin for his arrest and asked the public for their help. Police want to question Caldwell in the shooting deaths of Police Officers Kevin Burrell and James McDonald.

In Washington

VETERANS: Veterans Secretary Jesse Brown has proposed increased utilization of the military health-care system as a means of cutting government health costs. The Washington Post reported Saturday that Brown proposes to permit the estimated 23 million veterans who do not use VA hospitals a chance to "buy into" the VA health system by using private insurance funds or federal Medicare and Medicaid benefits to pay for VA care.