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Australia: 80 whales die

HOBART — A group of about 80 whales stranded on a remote coastline in southern Australia were battered to death on rocks before rescuers could reach them.

Officials from Tasmania state's Parks and Wildlife Service rushed Sunday in four-wheel-drive vehicles to the remote site at Sandy Cape after the long-finned pilot whales were spotted by air a day earlier. Strandings are not uncommon in Tasmania, where the whales pass by on their migration to and from Antarctic waters. It is not known why whales get stranded.

Brazil: Flood toll rises to 109

ITAJAI — Rescue workers have pulled nine more bodies from beneath mud and rubble in Brazil's flood-ravaged southern state of Santa Catarina, bringing the death toll to 109, the state civil defense department said Saturday.

Most of the 109 victims were killed in mudslides and 19 still were missing. At least 78,000 people in 14 cities have been driven from their homes, with many taking shelter in churches, schools, gymnasiums and other public buildings.

Congo: Rebel leader rebuked

JOMBA — The United Nations' special envoy to Congo chided Congo's main rebel leader during a second round of peace talks Saturday for breaking a cease-fire, according to video footage taken inside the closed-door meeting.

The footage, taken by the U.N. and made available to journalists, shows an angry mediator, former Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo, berating rebel leader Laurent Nkunda for starting an offensive along the border with Uganda last week, thus breaking a cease-fire in the middle of peace talks.

Since the first round of peace talks on Nov. 16, Nkunda's forces have clashed with the army several times, and rebels captured two border posts and a town last week.

Gaza Strip: Pilgrims detained

GAZA CITY — Hamas police set up checkpoints across Gaza on Saturday to prevent pilgrims from leaving for a holy Muslim ritual in Saudi Arabia, beating some who tried to dodge barriers, witnesses said.

The Islamic militants who rule Gaza were upset that the pilgrims coordinated their journey with Hamas' rival, the Palestinian Authority. The authority, based in the West Bank, is run by Hamas' bitter rival, the Fatah movement. The crackdown on the pilgrims highlights the depth of the bitterness between the two groups.

Mexico: 8 killed at restaurant

CIUDAD JUAREZ — Police say at least 12 masked gunmen opened fire inside a restaurant in the northern border city of Ciudad Juarez, killing eight.

Chihuahua state prosecutor's office spokesman Alejandro Pariente says the gunmen arrived at the seafood restaurant Friday evening in three cars, approached a group of people and opened fire. Pariente says no arrests have been made.

Thailand: Explosions wound 51

BANGKOK — At least 51 anti-government protesters were wounded in several explosions early Sunday, raising fears of widening confrontations in a standoff that has strangled Thailand's economy and shut down its airports.

The first blast went off inside Prime Minister Somchai Wongsawat's office compound, which protesters seized in August and have held ever since. At least 49 people were hurt, including nine who were hospitalized, said Surachet Sathitniramai at the Narenthorn Medical Center. He said four were in serious condition.

The protesters overran Bangkok's international Suvarnabhumi airport Tuesday night as part of their campaign to force Somchai from office. They seized the Don Muang airport a day later, severing the capital from all commercial air traffic and virtually paralyzing the government.

The demonstrators say they will not leave until Somchai resigns, and have refused to enter any negotiations.

Venezuela: Naval tactics starting

CARACAS — Venezuela's state news agency says three days of joint naval exercises with Russia will kick off in Venezuelan waters on Monday.

The state-run Bolivarian News Agency says the operation involving 11 Venezuelan and four Russian ships has been christened Venrus 2008. Saturday's report said exercises will include anti-aircraft defense and tactics to combat terrorism and drug trafficking. Some will involve helicopters and planes.