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NEWS CAPSULES

Around the world

20 FREED: Muslim guerrillas in the southern Philippines freed 20 Christian hostages Monday but kept a Roman Catholic priest as a human shield, officials said. The guerrillas from the Abu Sayyaf group killed 15 other hostages after seizing 74 people last Wednesday in apparent retaliation for a military attack on fellow rebels on Jolo Island. The 20 hostages, 14 of them women, burst into tears as they stumbled down a muddy track and saw military units and officials waiting to greet them. They had been forced to walk two to three hours along forest tracks in teeming rain but said they had been treated well.

MASSACRES: Eighteen people were shot dead in two separate execution-style massacres, making the weekend one of the bloodiest in the history of Sao Paulo, Brazilian police said Monday. The killings took place over a six-hour period in Sao Paulo, Brazil's most populous city, on the southern coast. Gunmen in Taboao da Serra on the outskirts of Sao Paulo burst into a house early Sunday and shot dead 12 adults, including a 75-year-old woman. Police found most of the victims lying on the floor shot through the head.

Across the nation

LOCKOUT? As leaders of the United Auto Workers called off a six-day strike at Caterpillar Inc.'s Aurora, Ill., plant, workers trying to return to the job found the factory's gates locked. The company will not allow any of the striking workers to return until union leaders promise not to strike over issues similar to the one that caused this strike, Caterpillar spokesman Terry Thorstenson said late Sunday. He denied that workers are being locked out and said the company considers the strike to be ongoing.

DEFECTION: A Cuban pilot picked up his sister and brother-in-law in his vintage crop-duster, then flew to the naval air station in Key West, Fla., and requested political asylum. The fabric-winged AN-2 Cub sailed slowly onto the base, so slowly that some onlookers thought it might crash. "It looked like a plane that was going too slow to fly," Navy spokesman Chief Robert Lewis said. The plane, its load of pesticides and the defectors landed safely.