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In brief: City leader fired after protests

URUMQI, China – The head of a western city racked by communal violence and a bizarre string of needle attacks has been sacked by Chinese authorities hoping to calm uneasy mobs and end protests that left the city on edge for three days.

Security was tight today in Urumqi, but the city was calm with no sign of protests.

The removal of Urumqi’s Communist Party Secretary Li Zhi on Saturday came amid reports of police again using tear gas to disperse crowds outside Urumqi’s government offices, and more unconfirmed reports of hypodermic attacks, including one on an 11-year-old boy in a downtown square.

The city’s chief prosecutor announced further details about four people arrested over the attacks, but offered little to back up the government’s claims that they were an organized campaign to spread terror.

Candidate, family slain by gunmen

VILLAHERMOSA, Mexico – Gunmen killed a state congressional candidate and his wife and two sons in their home Saturday in the Gulf coast state of Tabasco, in southern Mexico.

Jose Francisco Fuentes Esperon, 43, was found dead along with his wife, 38, and two sons aged 9 and 13, in the state capital, Villahermosa, according to state Attorney General Rafael Gonzalez Lastra.

Fuentes Esperon was a former university rector and was widely known in the capital.

The state government immediately offered to provide protection for any candidate who wants it ahead of Oct. 18 elections.

Local and state politicians have increasingly become victims of violence that has cost more than 13,500 lives since Mexico launched an offensive against drug cartels in late 2006.


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N. Korea, setting stage for talks, halts nuclear, ICBM tests

UPDATED: 10:03 p.m.

updated  North Korea said Saturday it has suspended nuclear and long-range missile tests and plans to close its nuclear test site ahead of a new round of negotiations with South Korea and the United States. There was no clear indication in the North’s announcement if it would be willing to deal away its arsenal.