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World in brief: Karzai vows to fight corruption

KABUL, Afghanistan – The embattled Afghan president pledged Sunday that there would be no place for corrupt officials in his new administration – a demand made by Washington and its international partners as they ponder sending more troops to confront the Taliban and shore up his government.

Also Sunday, NATO reported three more coalition soldiers – one American and two Britons – died in combat in the Taliban-infested areas of the west and south.

Hamid Karzai was proclaimed the winner last week in a fraud-marred presidential election after his only remaining challenger dropped out ahead of a runoff, saying he did not expect a fair vote.

With his reputation sullied by the messy election, Karzai gave assurances Sunday that he would rid his government of corrupt officials.

“Individuals who are involved in corruption will have no place in the government,” Karzai said in an interview with the U.S. Public Broadcasting Service.

Quake does damage in Indonesia

JAKARTA, Indonesia – A strong undersea earthquake killed two people and damaged buildings on the remote island of Sumbawa in central Indonesia, officials said today.

At least 20 people were hospitalized on the island after the 6.7-magnitude temblor, many of them with broken bones, said Rustam Pakaya, the head of the Health Ministry’s crisis center. He said at least 40 people were injured.

The quake struck at 3:41 a.m. local time near a small island chain just east of the Lombok resort island. It had a depth of 11 miles and the epicenter was about 830 miles east of the Indonesian capital, Jakarta.

Two people were killed in a part of Sumbawa called Ambalawe, said local government spokesman Abdul Wahab Usman. “There are believed to be many injuries, but we are still checking,” he said.

The quake damaged streets and schools, while a landslide blocked a main road linking the town of Bima to the remote districts, Usman said.

Chavez tells troops to ready for war

CARACAS, Venezuela – President Hugo Chavez on Sunday ordered Venezuela’s military to prepare for a possible armed conflict with Colombia, saying his country’s soldiers should be ready if the United States attempts to provoke a war between the South American neighbors.

Chavez said Venezuela could end up going to war with Colombia as tensions between them rise, and he warned that if a conflict broke out, “it could extend throughout the whole continent.”

“The best way to avoid war is preparing for it,” Chavez told military officers during his weekly television and radio program. Venezuela’s socialist leader has also cited a recent deal between Bogota and Washington giving U.S. troops greater access to military bases as a threat to regional stability.

The government of Colombian President Alvaro Uribe rejected what it called “threats of war from Venezuela’s government,” saying it would protest Chavez’s comments to the Organization of American States and the U.N. Security Council.

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