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ALGIERS - Muslim militants ambushed and killed 27 soldiers in a mountain region east of the Algerian capital, residents said Saturday.


TOKYO - Engine trouble prevented a $370 million communications satellite launched Saturday from entering its intended orbit, the latest of a series of embarrassments for Japan's space program.


MOSCOW - Russia and Japan signed a "breakthrough" treaty on Saturday, giving Japanese fishermen access to waters around the Kurile islands, which lie at the heart of half a century of disputes between Moscow and Tokyo.


MONTREAL - More than two-thirds of Quebec voters think the Quebec electorate, not the Canadian Supreme Court, should decide if the French-speaking province has the right to secede unilaterally from Canada, according to a poll published Saturday.


KAMPALA - Burundi's hopes that its neighbors would ease a crippling economic embargo were dashed on Saturday when a summit of regional leaders voted to keep sanctions in place until the country returned to civil rule.


NEW DELHI - A senior leader of the Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party said on Saturday he would begin a fast to the death in protest against his party's ousting from power in a key Indian state.


CAIRO - About 200 Egyptian journalists staged a sit-in outside their union office on Saturday in support of Iraq in its stand-off with the United Nations.


HAVANA - Russia and Cuba have agreed to strengthen their trade and economic cooperation after talks in Havana that reconfirmed a $350 million Russian credit to the communist-ruled island, Cuban state media said Saturday.

Saudi Arabia

RIYADH - Iran's former president arrived in Saudi Arabia on Saturday for a visit to boost cooperation between the two oil giants, whose relations are improving after nearly two decades of hostility.


KARACHI - Two Iranian construction workers were gunned down on Saturday in southern Karachi.


RIO DE JANEIRO - Four people died and eight were seriously injured when a spark ignited a truck supplying gas to a bakery in Brazil's Amazon city of Manaus and caused a huge explosion, a state health official said Saturday.


YAOUNDE - Cameroon held a special church service on Saturday for well over 200 people who died in an inferno when two petroleum tanker trains exploded in the capital Yaounde a week ago.


QUITO - An assembly reforming Ecuador's constitution has approved a measure designed to block the re-election of ousted President Abdala Bu-ca-ram, nicknamed "El Loco" for his erratic behavior.


KIGALI - Hutu rebels attacked a tea factory in northwestern Rwanda, killing civilians and soldiers in subsequent clashes, the military said Saturday.


VERSAILLES - Several thousand supporters of the far-right National Front marched Saturday to protest a proposed three-month jail sentence for their leader, Jean-Marie Le Pen.