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Hindu nationalists win state election

Mon., Dec. 24, 2007

Hindu nationalists won a crucial test of political support Sunday with a resounding victory in a state election, fought in the shadow of anti-Muslim riots that left more than 1,000 people dead in 2002.

The vote in Gujarat, in western India, was a victory for Narendra Modi, arguably India’s most divisive politician, who was re-elected to the state’s top job.

Throughout the often bitter campaign, Modi cast the election as a referendum on his rule – a tenure best known for the riots, which began after a mysterious train fire killed 59 Hindu pilgrims. Many in India say Modi stood idly by as Hindu mobs butchered Muslims, who were blamed for the fire. The United States has refused to renew his visa because of the riots.

“This vote is a positive vote to bring back the government,” he told thousands of supporters Sunday. “All the negative propaganda used in the campaign has been rejected by the people.”


Insurgent attack kills at least five

Insurgents armed with rocket-propelled grenades and assault rifles attacked an Ethiopian army base in northern Mogadishu, triggering a deadly nighttime clash that sent stray mortar rounds crashing into homes, residents and witnesses said Sunday.

At least five Somalis were killed and eight wounded in the crossfire, they said.

Meanwhile, a first contingent of 100 Burundian peacekeepers deployed in the capital, joining 1,800 Ugandan troops in an African Union force still well short of the personnel strength needed to help restore order.

In the overnight attack, fighters struck a former factory being used as a base by troops from Ethiopia, which is allied with Somalia’s U.N.-backed government in its battle against Islamic insurgents.


Massacre suspect re-arrested

Authorities on Sunday said they re-arrested the alleged mastermind of a 1997 massacre of 45 men, women and children in southern Mexico.

Antonio Santiz was detained Saturday – the 10th anniversary of the killings – on charges he participated in a series of violent robberies in the days leading up to the Acteal massacre in the southern state of Chiapas, police said.

Chiapas Justice Minister Amador Rodriguez Lozano called Santiz the presumed “intellectual author” of the killings and said he is believed to have provided many of the weapons used in the massacre.

His arrest was an important step in an ongoing investigation into the massacre, Rodriguez said.


Venezuela, Cuba sign agreements

Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez deepened his country’s investment in communist-run Cuba this weekend with new energy, finance, mining and agricultural agreements, official media reported Sunday.

The deals include a project to expand an oil refinery in the eastern city of Santiago and develop the production of petrochemicals on the island.

The 14 agreements were signed Saturday in Santiago.


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