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Chad: Truce reached

N'DJAMENA — Darfur's most powerful rebel group has initialed a truce with the Sudanese government, officials said Saturday, marking the rebel group's return to peace talks aimed at ending the Darfur conflict.

The truce between the rebel Justice and Equality Movement and the Sudanese government takes effect immediately, said Idriss Deby, Chad's president. Justice and Equality Movement spokesman Ahmed Hussein said the deal initialed Saturday was a framework agreement to guide future peace negotiations, including talks on a permanent cease-fire.

Iran: BBC arm of CIA?

TEHRAN — Iran's police chief on Saturday accused the Voice of America and the BBC of being the arms of U.S. and British intelligence agencies, and warned of severe repercussions for journalists and activists caught having contacts with them, state media reported.

Gen. Ismail Ahmadi Moghaddam, whose police forces have played a key role in the government crackdown on protesters since Iran's disputed presidential election, was quoted by the official IRNA news agency as saying opposition activists have cooperated with the BBC and the Voice of America "with the aim of weakening and overthrowing the (ruling) system."

Iraq: Elections boycott

BAGHDAD — A leading Sunni party announced Saturday that it will boycott Iraq's upcoming elections because its leader was barred from participating, casting into doubt the inclusiveness of a vote that the U.S. military hopes will finally stabilize the country enough for its troops to go home.

The Iraqi National Dialogue Front, whose leader, Saleh Mutlak, has been forbidden to run because of his alleged expressions of sympathy for Saddam Hussein's Baath Party, cited what it called "Iranian interference" for its decision not to participate in the March 7 parliamentary elections.

Mexico: Bodies found

ACAPULCO — Police found the bound bodies of two men on a highway just outside Mexico's Pacific coast resort of Acapulco on Saturday.

The Public Safety Department in the southern state of Guerrero said the two men had been shot in the head and a handwritten message was left near the bodies. The body of a third man was found in Ciudad Altamirano, an inland city in Guerrero near the border with neighboring Michoacan state.

Morocco: Mosque deaths

MEKNES — Moroccan King Mohammed VI on Saturday ordered experts to check the safety of the country's historic mosques as the death toll from the collapse of a centuries-old minaret rose to 41 people, the official news agency said.

The minaret fell onto a crowded mosque during prayers Friday in the city of Meknes, a UNESCO heritage site and a walled city that is a maze of winding narrow streets. Some 75 people were injured, 17 of whom are still hospitalized, the North African nation's official MAP news agency said.

Philippines: 6 killed

MANILA — Philippine marines killed six al-Qaida-linked militants early Sunday in an assault on a rebel encampment on a southern island, a senior military commander said.

A marine special operations platoon raided an Abu Sayyaf camp outside Maimbung township on Jolo island following intelligence reports that two wanted militant leaders, Umbra Jumdail and Albader Parad, were there, said Lt. Gen. Benjamin Dolorfino. Three marines were wounded in the clash.

Zimbabwe: Disputed law

HARARE — President Robert Mugabe defended a law requiring Zimbabwean businesses to be controlled by blacks, underlining differences with his governing partners in an interview Saturday.

Mugabe's governing partner, Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai's Movement for Democratic Change, has said the law is unworkable and will discourage much-needed investment. The law was passed by parliament when it was still dominated by Mugabe's lawmakers in 2008 is set to go into effect March 1.

"We differ ideologically, but we say let the people of the country own what is rightfully theirs," Mugabe said on national television Saturday in a 90-minute interview marking his 86th birthday, which is Sunday.