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Around the world

AFGHANISTAN: A week of fighting between rival Shiite Muslims in the Afghan capital of Kabul has killed as many as 330 people and wounded 1,100, a Red Cross official said Wednesday. Most of the casualties were taken to the Red Cross-run Karte Se Hospital, which has been cut off by fighting, said Mohammed Na-heen, a medical officer for the International Committee for the Red Cross. He said the 200-bed hospital was treating 360 patients, many of them lying on stretchers on the floor. Since throwing out the communists in 1992, rival Muslim groups have been battling each other for power.SHOOTING: The gunman who killed nine people and wounded 40 in a shooting rampage on a major Beijing thoroughfare was an army first lieutenant, Beijing police said Wednesday. The gunman, identified as Tian Mingjian, had been disciplined for beating another soldier, the official Xinhua news agency said, quoting a senior police officer. He was a member of an army unit stationed in the capital's suburbs. Tuesday's shooting rampage was shocking in a country where the incidence of violent crime is small compared with that of the United States.

Across the nation

SPLIT DECISION: Paul J. Hill, who is accused of killing an abortion doctor and his clinic escort, won a split decision from a county court jury in Pensacola, Fla., on two misdemeanor charges resulting from protests he was involved in before the July 29 shooting at the Pensacola Ladies Center. Hill was found not guilty of disorderly conduct but guilty of violating a noise ordinance on June 17. Judge Thomas Johnson of Escambia County Court sentenced Hill to 45 days in jail, where he is already being held.

SISTERS: For 10 years, the two elderly sisters lived together and took care of each other. When constant health problems convinced them it was impossible to go on, they decided to die together. Ardys Van Horne, 83, and Kathryn Lachner, 82, were found shot to death Sunday in their two-bedroom apartment in Doyles-town, Pa., in what authorities ruled a murder-suicide. A note on the dresser indicated the women had planned their deaths. "Life has become a daily battle with aches and pains, and the frustrations of trying to cope with unending health problems," the note read.

SNAKES: Game officials snuck up on 2,000 snakes and put the bite on 15 people suspected of illegal collecting and black-market poaching. Tuesday's raids in 11 counties capped a two-year operation aimed at crimping California's estimated $100 million-a-year illegal trade in native reptiles. "Poachers are hammering California wildlife," said Fish and Game Director Boyd Gibbons. "No species escapes the poachers." Officials arrested or issued citations to 15 people and were seeking eight more. The catches included rosy boas, rattlesnakes, a poisonous pink-and-black Gila monster, snapping turtles, a piranha and various other fish.