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NEWS CAPSULES

Around the world

HAITI: Chile has closed its embassy in Port-au-Prince, and Ambassador Luis Larrain will leave Haiti for the Dominican Republic, embassy officials said Wednesday. The closure comes just three days after Argentina shut the doors to its embassy and Ambassador Carlos Carrasco left via the Dominican Republic. Both Chile and Argentina supported a U.N. Security Council resolution authorizing a U.S.-led invasion of Haiti, and Carrasco reportedly had received death threats before his departure.ACQUITTED: A court Thursday acquitted the last man standing trial on charges of plotting the failed coup that led to the collapse of the Soviet Union. Prosecutors earlier this week told the Military Collegium of the Russian Supreme Court that there was no evidence that Valentin Va-ren-nikov, a former Soviet deputy defense minister, planned to betray his country. A spokesman for former Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev, who was briefly imprisoned during the hard-line coup, denounced the decision.

URANIUM: Authorities in Munich, Germany, announced Thursday they had seized about one gram of highly-enriched uranium, the second discovery within four months of the material that can be used to make nuclear bombs. "Here we are seeing a new and alarming trend in nuclear smuggling, with criminals able to get their hands on weapons-grade material," said a spokesman for the Bavarian Crime Agency in Munich.

IRELAND: Hoping to prod the IRA into ordering a prolonged cease-fire, Northern Ireland's police chief said Thursday that Britain would respond to such a step by quickly cutting the number of troops on the streets. "If we had a cease-fire in the next couple of months and if that cease-fire were prolonged, you would see very quickly a change in the police and army patrolling situation," Chief Constable Sir Hugh Annesley said.

Across the nation

ARSON: The rural Alabama high school at the center of a racial clash was deliberately burned to the ground, authorities concluded. "We'll get to the bottom of it and these kids can go to school in safety without fear of being harmed," state Attorney General Jimmy Evans said Wednesday. State Fire Marshal John Robison gave no details of the arson fire that quickly consumed the 57-year-old Randolph County High School in Wedowee.

ARMORED TRUCK: Authorities are searching for an armored truck driver and her boyfriend who disappeared with $1 million in cash. The heist was the third involving an armored truck in Las Vegas in the past 10 months. "We're not going to eliminate foul play at this time, but all indications point to an embezzlement theft by Misty and her boy-friend," Police Lt. Mike Hawkins said, referring to Brinks Inc. employee Misty Leann Smith, 23, and 29-year-old Anthony Frisco. "The speculation is that they have left the state." The armored truck was found abandoned Tuesday night in a ware-house complex not far from where the vehicle disappeared hours earlier.

CONGRESSMAN: U.S. Rep. Walter R. Tucker III faces federal charges that he took bribes while mayor of suburban Compton, KNBC-TV reported. Tucker, D-Calif., could be indicted as early as Thursday, the station reported. A two-year FBI investigation included videotaped meet-ings in which Tucker allegedly took money from an undercover agent to put items on the City Council agenda, KNBC-TV reported.

STING: Ohio authorities know what it takes to catch a felon - or 621 of them. They promised increased welfare benefits and tax refunds and nabbed the fugitives over three months by luring them into a state office building. "The lure of money is tempting bait," said Ohio Attorney General Lee Fisher. The 621, all wanted on felony charges, were among 5,100 fugitives mailed offers of higher benefits or $1,000 income tax refunds.

BODIES: Three decomposed human bodies were found at a Los Angeles storage center in trunks bought at an auction by a man who said he hadn't looked inside, officials said. Police, called when the cases began to smell, found a body in one trunk Wednesday at the U-Haul storage center. They turned over the other trunks to coroners, who found the other corpses later that night.

ALIENS: A former manager of a chain of medical clinics could go to prison for hiring illegal aliens in the first criminal case brought in the Los Angeles area under the 1986 immigration reform law. Leticia Ruiz was indicted last week on charges of hiring aliens knowing their work papers were false. Ruiz, 40, of Montclair, is charged with 16 violations, each carrying up to five years in prison and a $250,000 fine. She was freed without bail.

RAPE: A 7-year-old kidney patient was raped in her Chicago hospital bed, then quietly told a nurse after the intruder got away. Police were called and the hospital was sealed, but no suspect was found. The girl, who was in Wyler Children's Hospital for a kidney infection, was sent home on schedule Wednesday after more medical treatment and counseling from a chaplain.

SENTENCED: The homeless parents of an infant boy who died after being bitten more than 100 times by the family's pet rat in Fullerton, Calif., were each sentenced to six years in prison. Kathyleen Giguere, 31, and Steven Giguere 28, got the maximum Wednesday for felony child neglect in the death of 4-month-old Steven Jr. last August.

Other news

TWO PASSENGER trains collided head-on Thursday near Masan, South Korea, killing four people and injuring as many as 200. . . . AN EFFORT to allow public paddling of graffiti vandals was turned back Wednesday in the California Assembly. . . . GUNMEN SHOT and killed four Shiite Muslim activists and a police officer in Karachi, Pakistan, renewing sectarian violence in the nation's largest city. . . . FLAMES TORE through an apartment in St. Marys, Ga., Wednesday, killing three young brothers as they huddled in closets or under blankets.