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British Columbia: Foot found

VANCOUVER — For the fourth time in less than a year, a human foot in a running shoe has been found along the British Columbia coast.

Police said Friday that they don't know if there are any links between the cases of the four severed right feet found on island shorelines in the Vancouver region.

Authorities say they haven't reached any conclusions about the origin of the feet. But local speculation has been rife with some reports claiming they belonged to victims of violent crimes or a plane crash.

Police said a passer-by found the fourth human foot on Kirkland Island, about 15 miles south of Vancouver on Thursday.

Iraq: Fragile truce tested

BAGHDAD — Iraqi soldiers fired in the air over supporters of anti-U.S. Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr to prevent them from gathering for Muslim prayers Friday in the southern city of Basra, enraging the worshippers and straining a fragile truce with the government.

In another worrisome sign, a top aide to al-Sadr accused Iraqi forces of violations of a separate truce in Baghdad's Sadr City, where thousands of Iraqi troops have deployed in what has so far been a peaceful campaign to impose control. Sadr Movement officials in both Basra and Sadr City said they were abiding by the cease-fires, but the shooting in the southern city angered al-Sadr's followers throughout southern Iraq and in Baghdad.

Mexico: Homicides spiral

MEXICO CITY — Homicides related to organized crime jumped 47 percent in 2008, Mexico's attorney general said Friday in a rare confirmation of how bad violence has become.

Police later made two gruesome discoveries in northern Mexico. Five bodies — two of them decapitated — were found wrapped in blankets in a city on the border with Texas, along with two heads in sacks. In another state, police found four severed heads in ice chests along a highway.

Attorney General Eduardo Medina Mora told Radio Formula that 1,378 people have been killed so far this year, compared with 940 in the same period last year.

Russia: Space crew honored

STAR CITY — Russian space officials on Friday honored international space station crew members who suffered through a botched landing in Kazakhstan in their Soyuz capsule last month.

U.S. astronaut Peggy Whitson, Russian cosmonaut Yuri Malenchenko and South Korean scientist Yi So-yeon took part in a rain-soaked flower-laying ceremony at the statue of Yuri Gagarin, the first man in space, at the Star City training center outside Moscow.

S. Africa: Foreigners flee

JOHANNESBURG — Thousands forced from their homes by anti-foreigner violence in South Africa are now reportedly threatened by disease in makeshift camps, and some immigrants said Friday they felt safer hiding in open fields.

Neighboring Mozambique, meanwhile, declared a state of emergency to free government funds for citizens fleeing attacks. South African police reported sporadic violence — but no deaths — across the country Friday, leaving scores more homeless.

Sudan: U.N. team ambushed

KHARTOUM — Dozens of men on horseback armed with machine guns and rocket-propelled grenades ambushed Nigerian peacekeepers serving with the joint U.N.-African Union force in Darfur, though no casualties were reported, the U.N. said.

About 50 to 60 armed men dressed in military camouflage on Wednesday afternoon ambushed the peacekeepers along the new airport road near El Geneina in West Darfur state, the U.N.-AU mission known as UNAMID said in a statement Thursday. They stole rifles, ammunition, telephones and cash. UNAMID did not say who was suspected in the attack.