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In brief: Santos takes Colombian election

BOGOTA, Colombia – Juan Manuel Santos convincingly won re-election Sunday after Colombia’s tightest presidential contest in years, an endorsement of his 18-month-old peace talks to end the Western Hemisphere’s longest-running conflict.

Santos got 53 percent of the votes for candidates, against 47 percent for right-wing challenger Oscar Ivan Zuluaga, the hand-picked candidate of former two-term President Alvaro Uribe, who many considered the true challenger.

Santos said the win affirmed his claim to be ably steering Colombia through a historic moment – out of a crippling conflict that has claimed more than 200,000 lives, mostly civilians.

34 killed in attack on Kenya town

NAIROBI, Kenya – Somali militants wielding automatic weapons attacked a small Kenyan coastal town, assaulting the police station, setting two hotels on fire, and spraying bullets into the street.

At least 34 people were killed, officials said today.

The assault came late Sunday night as town residents were watching World Cup matches on TV. Authorities blamed al-Shabab, Somalia’s al-Qaida-linked terror group.

The attack occurred in the town of Mpeketoni, which is about 30 miles southwest of the tourist center of Lamu.

Syrian army advances against opposition

BEIRUT – Government forces flushed opposition fighters from their last redoubts in northwestern Syria near the Turkish frontier on Sunday, capturing two villages and restoring government control over the border crossing, activists and state media said.

The counteroffensive’s success is the latest blow to the rebels.

On Sunday, after months of bloody clashes, army troops backed by fighters from the Lebanese Shiite military group Hezbollah seized the seaside hamlet of Samra before also taking the village of Kassab and its adjacent border crossing, said Rami Abdurrahman, the director of the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.

Also Sunday, the state news agency said some 230 prisoners were freed under a general amnesty declared by President Bashar Assad following his re-election.


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Explosion rocks Wisconsin refinery, forcing evacuations

UPDATED: 1:41 p.m.

A tank containing crude oil or asphalt exploded at a large refinery in Wisconsin on Thursday, injuring several people and prompting fire officials to urge people living near the still-burning plant to evacuate their homes.