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Costa Rica: Election

SAN JOSE, Costa Rica — Costa Rica's governing party candidate swept toward an election victory Sunday night that would make her the first woman president in this Central American nation.

Laura Chinchilla had 47 percent of the vote after a quarter of the ballots were counted. The closest contender, Otton Solis of the Citizens Action Party, had 23 percent. He and the other main rival quickly conceded defeat.

Pakistan: Taliban

QUETTA — If Afghan Taliban fighters and their top leaders are roaming around this remote part of Pakistan as the U.S. alleges, the police chief here says he hasn't seen them.

"Point them out to me," Abid Hussain Notkani says. "I will arrest them."

Interviews with residents and officials in and around Quetta, a dusty frontier city of 1.2 million, reveal widespread skepticism that Pakistan's vast Baluchistan province harbors Afghan Taliban commander Mullah Omar, his aides or their foot soldiers.

Afghanistan: Exodus

KANDAHAR — Minivans piled high with mattresses and clothing lined up at checkpoints Sunday as hundreds of civilians fled a Taliban-controlled area ahead of a planned NATO offensive in southern Afghanistan.

The militants, meanwhile, dug in for a fight, reinforcing their positions with rocket-propelled grenades and heavy weapons, according to witnesses.

The U.S. military has not given a start date for the operation to clear insurgents from the Helmand province town of Marjah, the biggest community in the south under insurgent control. But the military has said fighting will start soon and many residents weren't taking any chances.

Switzerland: Survivor

EVOLENE — A skier was buried beneath an avalanche for 17 hours in the Swiss Alps before being pulled from the snow with only mild hypothermia, police said Sunday.

The 21-year-old man appeared to have survived because he was trapped next to a pocket of air that allowed him to breathe even though he was unable to free himself from the crushing weight of the snow, police in the southern canton of Valais said.

"I've never heard of such a case before," said police spokesman Jean-Marie Bornet. "It's already very difficult to survive more than 45 minutes beneath an avalanche."

Lebanon: Black box

BEIRUT — Lebanon's marine commandos on Sunday recovered the black box of the Ethiopian Airlines jet that crashed into the Mediterranean last month, the Lebanese army said in a statement.

The Boeing 737 crashed Jan. 25 minutes after takeoff from Beirut during a fierce thunderstorm. All 90 people on board are believed to have died.

The Lebanese military also said that eight more bodies were recovered Sunday, raising the number of bodies retrieved since the crash to 23.

West Bank: Raid

RAMALLAH — Israeli troops broke down the door of an apartment in the Palestinian-ruled West Bank town of Ramallah on Sunday and arrested two pro-Palestinian activists from Spain and Australia, their roommate said.

The Israeli military said the two women overstayed their visas but also alleged they were involved in violent protests in the West Bank.

Somalia: Offensive

MOGADISHU — Top Somali officials are threatening to begin a military offensive against Islamist insurgents but critics — some of them demoralized soldiers — say a lack of equipment, funds and training put any ultimate success into doubt.