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In brief: U.N. worker among nine killed

JUBA, Sudan – Two days of fighting in a flashpoint town near Sudan’s north-south border has killed nine people, including a U.N. staff member, officials said Friday.

U.N. spokesman Kouider Zerrouk said one United Nations staff member died in the fighting, which started Thursday and continued into Friday.

The fighting took place between soldiers from the south and soldiers from the north who are members of the same northern army unit, said Col. Philip Aguer, a spokesman for the southern military.

The fighting comes about two weeks after Southern Sudan finished voting in an independence referendum that will see the south break off and form a new country in July.

Cuts will shrink Cabinet in Pakistan

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan – Pakistan’s ruling party said Friday it plans to trim the bloated 50-plus-member Cabinet to help cut spending at a time of severe financial crisis.

The offer, an apparent bow to opposition demands, was aimed at gaining broader political support for economic reforms sought by international lenders.

Pakistan’s economy relies heavily on loans from the International Monetary Fund and the government has struggled to raise revenues, in part because many residents avoid paying taxes. Chronic power shortages have hampered economic growth and floods last year caused massive damage to infrastructure and other sectors.

It was not clear exactly how many members a new Cabinet would have, or whether many of the faces would remain the same. Key ministries such as foreign and interior are likely to stay intact, though positions such as minister for postal services might be cut.

Several ministers who took part in Friday’s meeting have already offered their resignations, said the People Party’s secretary-general, Jahangir Badar.

Detained diplomat may be freed soon

WASHINGTON – Pakistani officials are indicating that a U.S. diplomat charged with murder in Pakistan may soon be released.

Two Pakistani officials in the United States told the Associated Press on Friday they expect Raymond Davis to be free in days, once a Pakistani court goes over documents U.S. officials have submitted to prove his diplomatic status. U.S. officials say Davis, who works at the consulate in Lahore, acted in self-defense in shooting and killing two armed men who approached him on the street after robbing someone else.

U.S. alerts name two Mexican cities

MEXICO CITY – Officials are warning U.S. citizens not to drive at night in parts of the western Mexico city of Guadalajara after suspected drug-gang members burned vehicles and blocked streets. A separate U.S. alert Friday said the northern city of Monterrey has seen a significant increase in armed robberies at restaurants and convenience stores.

Some of the blockades in Guadalajara took place on a highway leading to the city’s airport and to Lake Chapala, a popular retirement and vacation spot for U.S. and Canadian citizens.

On Tuesday, assailants hurled grenades, burned vehicles and blocked several Guadalajara streets and highways in seven near-simultaneous attacks that injured a policeman and two transportation workers.

The attacks were staged by drug gangs, possibly in retaliation for the arrests of their members, said Fernando Guzman Perez, interior secretary of Jalisco state, where Guadalajara is located.


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