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Luis Aldana wears an iron mask in his house in Bogota Saturday to protest lack of work, health care.
Luis Aldana wears an iron mask in his house in Bogota Saturday to protest lack of work, health care.
William Fernando Martinez, Associated Press

Colombia: Man protests plight

BOGOTA— An unemployed man has sewn shut his mouth and locked himself behind an iron mask to demand the government attend to his family's desperate economic plight.

Luis Miguel Aldana, 52, said Saturday that he started the peculiar protest five days ago, after being locked out of his apartment in Bogota. Instead of paying two months of rent, Aldana says he bought shoes for his three children.

"I'm doing this to get attention because people have a heart of iron and also a face of iron — they don't listen to anybody and think this is a joke," said Aldana, speaking out of the corner of his mouth that is not sewn shut. Aldana currently is living in a neighbor's house, where he sits in bed with his hands and legs shackled in chains.

China: Vice president resigns

BEIJING — China's politically powerful vice president stepped down today amid a reshuffling of the Communist Party leadership, removing from office a rival to President Hu Jintao.

Closing out a weeklong party congress, delegates selected a new Central Committee, a body that approves leadership positions and sets broad policy goals, with Vice President Zeng Qinghong not among those selected, the state-run Xinhua News Agency reported.

Congo: Villagers flee homes

KINSHASA — Clashes broke out Saturday between rebels and a pro-government militia in eastern Congo, forcing people to flee their homes, a U.N. official said.

The fighting in two villages in North Kivu province pitted rebels loyal to former army general Laurent Nkunda against Mai Mai militiamen, said Maj. Prem Kumar Tiwari, a spokesman for the U.N. peacekeeping force in Congo. Thousands have fled their homes in the region in the past week because of renewed outbreaks of violence, according to the chief U.N. peacekeeping spokesman, Kemal Saiki.

Myanmar: Assembly ban ends

YANGON — Myanmar lifted a curfew on Saturday and ended a ban on assembly imposed during a deadly crackdown on pro-democracy protests — the latest sign the military rulers are confident they have fully crushed the largest demonstrations in two decades.

The White House dismissed the move as "cosmetic," a day after President Bush announced new penalties against the military-run government.

Puerto Rico: Pet owners sue

SAN JUAN — Pet owners whose dogs and cats were thrown to their deaths from a bridge have filed a multimillion-dollar lawsuit against the company that took the animals away and others they claimed were involved in the killings.

The $22.5 million claim was filed in federal court Friday against Puerto Rico's public housing director, the municipality of Barceloneta, its mayor, the owner of a private animal control company and several others. The 45 plaintiffs — whose pets were snatched this month when local authorities enforced a no-pet rule in the island's public housing — are seeking $500,000 each.

Somalia: Station manager killed

MOGADISHU — The manager of a radio station critical of both the Somali government and the Islamic militants who have been trying to topple it was killed outside his home in the Somali capital, the eighth journalist slain in the country this year.

Radio Shabelle's Bashir Nor Gedi, who was also a well-known businessman, was returning home from work late Friday when gunmen shot him three times in the head and chest, his younger brother, Abdinasir Nor Gedi, said Saturday.

Sudan: Several killed at camp

KHARTOUM — Fighting at a refugee camp in southern Darfur has left several people dead and others missing, an African Union official said Saturday.

The clashes in the Kalama refugee camp broke out over differences among tribal groups that signed a peace agreement with the Sudanese government in 2006 and those who did not sign, according to Al Sahafa, an independent daily newspaper reporting from Darfur. It reported that at least five people were killed and nine were injured.