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In brief: Four American soldiers killed by improvised explosive device

Kabul, Afghanistan – The U.S.-led international military coalition said four of its service members were killed in southern Afghanistan today, and a military official confirmed all were Americans killed by an improvised explosive device.

NATO said in a statement that the four were killed during a partnered operation in the south. A military official confirmed the four were from the United States and were killed by an IED.

No other details were available.

IEDs have become one of the top killers of Afghan and foreign soldiers, as well as civilians.

More rest ordered for Fernandez after brain hematoma found

Buenos Aires, Argentina – Doctors ordered a month’s rest for Argentina’s president on Saturday after they found blood on her brain due to a head injury.

President Cristina Fernandez’s spokesman said she had suffered a previously undisclosed “skull trauma” on Aug. 12. No details about this injury were officially released Saturday night.

Spokesman Alfredo Scoccimarro read a statement signed by the president’s doctors saying they did a CAT scan of her brain after the August head injury and found nothing wrong and that afterward she suffered no symptoms.

But he said problems surfaced Saturday after Fernandez, 60, went to a hospital for checks on an irregular heartbeat. Because she was suffering headaches, they looked at her skull again, too, and found a subdural hematoma. That means bleeding between the brain and the skull. The statement defined it as “chronic” and not “acute,” which suggests that it has been slowly building.

Drug interdiction plane crashes, killing Americans, Panamanian

Bogota, Colombia – A small plane on a U.S. counter-drug mission crashed Saturday in a remote, jungle region of northern Colombia, killing three Americans and a Panamanian National Guardsman and seriously injuring the other two Americans aboard.

The Havilland Dash 8 was flying over the western Caribbean when it lost radio contact with the U.S.-sponsored multinational task force in Key West, Fla., that runs drug interdiction in region, the U.S. military said.

Such planes typically track speedboats that smuggle cocaine from Colombia north into Central America and the Caribbean but U.S. Southern Command spokesman Lt. Cmdr. Ron Flanders said he did not have details on the mission.

It was not immediately clear if the Americans aboard were all military contractors, although Southcom did say the plane was contracted by the U.S. government.

The twin-engine turboprop plane went down near the city of Capurgana close to the border with Panama.

The two injured Americans were rescued by Colombian soldiers and taken to a hospital in the capital, Bogota, Southcom said. The names of the Americans were withheld pending notification of next-of-kin.

Irish reject government proposal to abolish Senate

Dublin – Irish voters rejected a government plan to abolish the country’s much-criticized Senate, a surprise result Saturday that dealt a blow to Prime Minister Enda Kenny.

Kenny had personally campaigned for the proposed constitutional amendment to eliminate Ireland’s upper house of parliament, arguing the Senate was undemocratic, politically toothless and expensive in an era of brutal budget cuts. All opinion polls during the monthlong campaign had pointed to easy passage.

Instead, voters rejected Friday’s referendum question on abolishing the Senate with a 51.7 percent “no” vote. Turnout was just 39 percent, a typically weak figure for Irish referendums, when anti-government voters often come out in droves.

Still, the rejection was widespread across Ireland’s constituencies. It suggested a nationwide failure by Kenny’s Fine Gael party to win the trust of voters, who had strongly backed his party when he rose to power in 2011 following Ireland’s international bailout.

Canadians held in Egypt released from prison

Toronto – Canada’s Foreign Affairs department said late Saturday two Canadians held without charges for the past several weeks in Egypt have been released from prison.

Lynne Yelich, a Canadian minister of consular affairs, said Canada welcomes the decision to release John Greyson, a filmmaker and professor, and Tarek Loubani, a physician.

The pair have been held without charges since mid-August. The men say they were observing an anti-government demonstration Aug. 16 when Loubani heeded a call for a doctor and began treating wounded demonstrators while Greyson recorded the unrest on video.

The pair released a statement a week ago saying they were beaten and subjected to degrading treatment. Canadian Foreign Minister John Baird warned Egypt that the detention was a significant threat to relations between the two countries.