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Armed men take hostages at school

Phnom Penh, Cambodia Six masked men, some armed with shotguns, took 70 students and teachers hostage at an international school in northwestern Cambodia but released about 30 of the hostages, a government spokesman said today.

An official said the men were still holding about 40 hostages at the school in Siem Reap province.

The assailants demanded $1,000, six AK-47 assault rifles, six shotguns, hand grenades and at least one car.

Officials were communicating with the hostage-takers by cell phone.

Israel to give up control of West Bank town

Jerusalem Israel plans to transfer the West Bank town of Jenin to Palestinian control to try to ensure calm when Israel withdraws from settlements, officials said Wednesday.

Israeli officials said no timetable was set for the transfer and urged the Palestinian Authority to disarm militants in the town. Jenin is in the northern West Bank, where Israel plans to evacuate four settlements as part of its plan to remove 21 settlements from the Gaza Strip.

Poultry worker tests positive for bird flu

Jakarta, Indonesia An Indonesian poultry worker has tested positive for bird flu in the country’s first human case of the disease that has so far killed 54 people in Southeast Asia.

The worker on the island of Sulawesi is showing no symptoms of the disease, but blood tests show he was exposed to the H5N1 strain and has produced antibodies to it, a health official said.


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Early exit polls show strong support to lift Ireland ban on abortion

UPDATED: 3:05 p.m.

Ireland’s referendum Friday represented more than a vote on whether to end the country’s strict abortion ban. It was a battle for the very soul of a traditionally conservative Roman Catholic nation that has seen a wave of liberalization in recent years.