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BEIJING - Snowstorms have killed 16 people in far-western China, and more than 50,000 soldiers and others have been mobilized to help rescue trapped people and livestock. Six people have died since Thursday in the Ili and Bayingolin prefectures of Xinjiang province, the state-run Xinhua news agency said. Ten people died in the heaviest snowstorms in Altay, on Xinjiang's northern border, in 30 years, it said.

Sri Lanka

COLOMBO - More than 300 combatants were killed as separatist rebels and government troops fought over two military bases in northern Sri Lanka, both sides said Saturday.


GROZNY - Chechnya's interim rebel government said Saturday that law and order were improving in the breakaway region ahead of this month's elections despite the kidnapping of two Russian Orthodox priests.


MANAGUA - Leftist Sandinista leader Daniel Ortega eased fears of social unrest in Nicaragua Saturday by accepting an offer for political talks with newly inaugurated President Arnoldo Aleman.


MINSK - Hard-line Belarussian President Alexander Lukashenko Saturday dismissed Foreign Minister Vladimir Senko and replaced him with a former top Communist who backs his plan to merge with neighboring Russia. Appointed to Senko's place was his deputy, Ivan Antonovich, once a secretary of the Russian Communist Party.


BOGOTA - Gunmen stormed a brothel in southwest Colombia early Saturday and killed seven people, including two prostitutes and their madame, police said.

Northern Ireland

BELFAST - An explosion rocked an unmanned police station in Tempo near the Irish border Saturday in an area where tension is high after a recent surge in IRA guerrilla activity.


CHERBOURG - A ship will leave this English Channel port Monday carrying 20 tons of highly radioactive nuclear waste bound for Japan, the state-owned nuclear processing company said Saturday.


COPENHAGEN - Gunmen in the Danish town of Aalborg shot and killed a member of the Hells Angels motorcycle gang overnight, bringing to eight the toll of dead in a three-year Nordic biker war, police said Saturday.

Costa Rica

SAN JOSE - A judge has ordered two Costa Rican police officers arrested on suspicion of aiding a shipment of cocaine en route from Panama to Guatemala, judicial authorities said Saturday.


BRUSSELS - A number of Belgians named Dutroux want to change their surnames to avoid being associated with a convicted rapist who is at the center of a child sex and murder scandal, a Belgian newspaper reported Saturday. La Derniere Heure said 12 of some 62 Belgians with the same surname as Marc Dutroux, who was arrested last August, have subsequently put in requests at the Ministry of Justice to be allowed to take other names.