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Sheep farmers clog streets

Hundreds of sheep are driven through Madrid on Sunday during an annual protest. 
 (Associated Press / The Spokesman-Review)
Hundreds of sheep are driven through Madrid on Sunday during an annual protest. (Associated Press / The Spokesman-Review)

Farmers led a flock of hundreds of bleating sheep through downtown Madrid on Sunday in a pungent protest urging the protection of ancient grazing routes threatened by urban sprawl.

About 700 of the animals meandered along major thoroughfares, tinkling bells in a parade that also featured donkeys, horses and people in old-fashioned garb from rural areas.

The annual protest, now in its 14th year, calls on authorities to protect 78,000 miles of paths used to move livestock from cool highland pastures in summer to lower-lying ones in winter.

Mogadishu, Somalia

Militants claim capture of town

Islamic militants said they captured a town in central Somalia on Sunday after they came under attack from pro-government militiamen backed by troops from Ethiopia and a region in northern Somalia.

The fighting erupted near the border of the Puntland region, one of the few areas in Somalia still outside the control of the Islamic movement. The group said it captured Bandiradley, about 430 miles north of the capital, Mogadishu, and two fighters were killed.

“The fighting is continuing and we are pursuing Puntland troops,” said Mohamed Mahmud Agaweyne, spokesman for the Islamic group in central Somalia.

Government officials declined to say if anyone from their militia had been killed.


Israeli general steps down

Israeli Defense Minister Amir Peretz on Sunday accepted the resignation of a tough-talking general whose troops were ambushed and captured by Hezbollah guerrillas, setting off last summer’s war in Lebanon.

Brig. Gen. Gal Hirsch was singled out for criticism because he was in charge of the unit along the Israel-Lebanon border that saw three soldiers killed and two captured by Hezbollah on July 12. The two soldiers remain in captivity.

Hirsch, 42, is the second high-profile military figure to lose his job over the war with Hezbollah militants.


At least 24 dead in mine explosion

An explosion in a northern China coal mine today killed at least 24 miners, state television reported.

The blast occurred early this morning at the Nanshan coal mine in Shanxi province’s Lingshi county, China Central Television said in its midday broadcast.

China’s poorly regulated mining industry is the deadliest in the world, with about 6,000 people killed each year in explosions, floods, collapses or other disasters. Lax safety rules and poor safety procedures are often to blame.


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