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NEWS CAPSULES

Around the world

5 EXTREMISTS HANGED: Five Muslim extremists were hanged Saturday in Cairo for attempting to assassinate Egypt's information minister and attacking foreign tourists, the government's Middle East News Agency reported. The hangings brought to 14 the number of extremists executed after being convicted by military courts since October. Eight facing death sentences, including one who escaped after being convicted with the five on May 27, remain at large. The series of executions reflects the determination of President Hosni Mubarak's government to clamp down on religious extremists.PLEA TO U.N.: Tajikistan's leader appealed to the United Nations on Saturday to help stop "bloody invasions" from Afghanistan by Tajik rebels and the Muslim militants who back them. The conflict - among the most volatile in the former Soviet Union - threatens to draw in Russia, which has promised to provide more weapons for Tajik leaders. Afghanistan also appealed to the United Nations, saying it wants talks with Moscow to help defuse the tensions.

STEPPING DOWN? Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and his arch-enemy President Ghulam Ishaq Khan have agreed to step down to end a paralyzing power struggle but are wrangling over who should go first, a government source said Saturday. Sharif emerged grim-faced from three hours of stormy late-night talks with Ishaq Khan saying he hoped to break the deadlock. The government source said both men had said they were ready to resign to end their bitter six-month-old vendetta but were still squabbling over who would go first and when.

Across the nation

PROTESTS FIZZLE: Abortion rights activists said Saturday that a major 10-day demonstration organized by the militant pro-life group Operation Rescue fizzled in all seven U.S. cities where protests were held. Only a handful of arrests were reported and no clinics were shut down during the "Cities of Refuge" protests in Philadelphia, Minneapolis, Cleveland, Dallas, San Jose, Jackson, Miss., and Melbourne, Fla. The event, which is scheduled to end Sunday, included rallies and picketing by pro-life activists aimed at forcing doctors and clinic owners to temporarily shut their doors.

PARK REOPENS: Part of Yosemite National Park that was closed after a ranger was shot reopened Saturday as the search for the gunman was suspended. "We have reduced the possibility that the suspect is still in the area, but we can't completely rule it out," park spokeswoman Kris Fister said Satur-day. "We feel it is safe for visitors to come in here, but we are advising them to be cautious: Don't pick up hitchhikers, and report anyone who looks suspicious," she said.

NO LIFTOFF: NASA halted the countdown for space shuttle Discovery less than an hour before scheduled liftoff Saturday from Cape Canaveral, Fla., because of a bad electrical circuit controlling a set of launch pad safety locks. A second launch attempt was expected no earlier than late this week. Launch director Bob Sieck said the prime suspect was a failed switch at the pad that will have to be replaced. Repairs will begin Monday once workers have safe access.