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ISLAMABAD, Pakistan — Using cannon and explosives, the Taliban has reportedly resumed blowing up two towering stone statues of Buddha in Afghanistan — a task the religious militia began a week ago.


CANBERRA — A hot air balloon exploded over the Australian capital Canberra Saturday, injuring three people on board, Australian radio said. The pilot managed to land the balloon after a fire broke out in the basket, and he and his two passengers escaped moments before the balloon exploded, it said.


MOSTAR — Bosnian Croat nationalist leader Ante Jelavic on Friday brushed off his firing by international peace authorities and said he would push ahead with a bid for self-rule for Croats in fragile Bosnia.


POUCH COVE, Newfoundland — The body of a Canadian teenager swept off an ice floe into frigid Atlantic waters was recovered Friday as relatives and friends gave up all hope that two more victims could be found alive.

VANCOUVER, British Columbia — The two men charged with the 1985 Air India bombing that killed 329 people appeared in court Friday as prosecutors looked for strategy tips in the recently completed Lockerbie trial.


SANTIAGO — Chile said Friday it will donate an unlimited amount of copper for restoration of Vatican City in a show of gratitude for the Catholic Church's role in "difficult" moments in the country's history.


BOGOTA — Armed men kidnapped a Japanese businessman in an exclusive neighborhood of the Colombian capital Bogota and handed him over to leftist rebels who are demanding a ransom, police said Friday.


QUITO — Two people have been killed and hundreds evacuated from their homes over the past two days as widespread floods struck Ecuador's coastal province of Manabi, the Red Cross said Friday.

QUITO — A banker implicated in a corruption scandal was extradited to Ecuador late Friday after about six months of legal battles in which he sought to avoid being brought home to stand trial.

El Salvador

SAN SALVADOR — Bandits carried out five kidnappings over 48 hours this week in El Salvador, including the brazen abduction of the daughter of a television magnate in a heavily policed area of the capital, police said.


STUTTGART — An outspoken human rights activist was elected the new co-leader of Germany's Greens party on Friday and immediately assailed the United States for its national missile defense plans and airstrikes on Iraq.

BERLIN — Authorities on Friday identified the body of a 12-year-old girl who disappeared in February and said an autopsy showed she was raped and strangled after her abduction.


NICOSIA, Cyprus — The head of Iran's official IRNA news agency said on Friday he had been summoned to appear in court over an article last month on rumors that dissident journalist Akbar Ganji had died in jail.


TOKYO — Japan's finance minister distanced himself Friday from comments that the nation was on the verge of fiscal collapse, saying he had only meant to highlight the difficulties the country faces.


BEIRUT — Eleven Lebanese allegedly killed in Congo's capital were arrested because they were neighbors of a suspect in the assassination of Congolese President Laurent Kabila, a Lebanese lawyer said Friday.


MEXICO CITY — Two days before Subcommander Marcos' arrival in the capital, President Vicente Fox Friday invited the rebel leader for a chat but warned the two men would pay dearly if they failed to heed calls for lasting peace in the southern state of Chiapas.