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In brief: Obama, Biden to greet troops

WASHINGTON – President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden plan to mark the end of the war in Iraq at a ceremony today at Joint Base Andrews in nearby Maryland.

The White House says the president and vice president will participate in a ceremony welcoming home U.S. troops from Iraq.

Obama marked the end of the Iraq war last week, meeting with troops at Fort Bragg, N.C., and welcoming Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki to the White House.

Cancer claims ex-Miss Venezuela

CARACAS, Venezuela – Former Miss Venezuela Eva Ekvall, whose struggle with breast cancer was closely followed by Venezuelans, has died at age 28.

Her family said Ekvall died Saturday at a hospital in Houston.

Ekvall was crowned Miss Venezuela at age 17 in 2000, and the following year she was third runner-up in the Miss Universe pageant in Puerto Rico. She went on to work as a model, actress and television news anchor.

She also authored a book, “Fuera de Foco” (“Out of Focus”), about her struggle with cancer, which included images by Venezuelan photographer Roberto Mata.

Grave in Mexico yields 10 bodies

MEXICO CITY – Prosecutors announced Monday they have found another clandestine grave holding 10 bodies in the northern Mexico state of Durango, bringing to 14 the number of such burial sites found in the state this year.

Soldiers found the 10 bodies last week in a field on the outskirts of the state capital, also called Durango, said Raymundo Enriquez, the spokesman for the Durango state prosecutors’ office.

The total number of bodies believed related to drug gang violence found so far this year in clandestine graves in Durango now stands at 287, including the most recent discovery.

Police in the city of Durango have offered no motives in the killings, but officials have said the killings are the result of an internal power struggle within the Sinaloa drug cartel, Mexico’s most powerful gang.

Karzai angry over death during raid

KABUL, Afghanistan – Afghan President Hamid Karzai and NATO officials have clashed once again on the issue of nighttime raids by Western forces, this time over one that left a pregnant Afghan woman dead.

A spokesman for the NATO force, Brig. Gen. Carsten Jacobson, said Monday that the commander of Western troops in Afghanistan, U.S. Marine Gen. John Allen, had met with Karzai over the weekend to express “deep condolences” over the woman’s death in Paktia province.

However, the precise circumstances of the raid early Saturday remained unclear.

Karzai and other senior Afghan officials have repeatedly denounced night raids. Most Afghans regard a home invasion by foreign troops as a grave cultural insult.

Karzai has made a cessation of U.S.-led night raids a condition of a long-term military pact with Washington, a so-called strategic partnership agreement, which would govern the relationship between American troops and the Afghan government after 2014, when NATO’s main combat mission is to end.


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