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Taliban releases 3 Afghan aid workers

KANDAHAR, Afghanistan — The Taliban released three Afghan aid workers Sunday who were kidnapped with two French colleagues nearly two months ago, as the militant group announced a new operation targeting foreign and government forces.

The three aid workers from the France-based group Terre d’Enfance — Mohammad Hashim and brothers Ghulam Rasul and Ghulam Azrat — were abducted April 3 along with the two French nationals in the southwestern province of Nimroz.

The Taliban released the French woman, Celine Cordelier, on April 28, and the man, Eric Damfreville, on May 11.

Babysitter facing death in Texas

GATESVILLE, Texas — A neighbor in a suburban Austin neighborhood appeared to be the perfect babysitter for Eryn Baugh’s infant son and his 2-year-old sister.

But just weeks after Cathy Lynn Henderson started working for the Baughs, 3-month-old Brandon was dead and Henderson had fled the state. The infant’s body was found buried 60 miles away with his skull crushed, wrapped in his yellow-trimmed white blanket and stuffed into a box.

Henderson, 50, is set to die in less than three weeks for the 1994 slaying that made her one of the most hated women in Texas. She would be just the 12th woman among the nearly 1,100 convicted killers executed since capital punishment resumed in the United States in 1977.

Gay rights activists pelted with eggs

MOSCOW — Police detained gay rights activists, among them European lawmakers, as they tried to present a letter to Moscow’s mayor Sunday in a demonstration that also attracted a hostile crowd of people who punched and threw eggs at the activists.

The letter, signed by some 40 European lawmakers, appealed the city’s ban on a march that would have taken place Sunday to mark the 14th anniversary of Russia decriminalizing homosexuality.

Police quickly grabbed about a dozen demonstrators and forced them into a bus, including the Russian gay rights movement leader Nikolai Alexeyev. Police then hustled away others, including German parliament member Volker Beck, as opponents threw eggs and shouted: “Moscow is not Sodom!”

Whaling ban likely to stay in place

ANCHORAGE, Alaska — Despite passing a symbolic resolution to overturn a 21-year moratorium on commercial whaling last year, it is unlikely that there will be enough support to formally end it when the International Whaling Commission meets here Monday.

The ban was enacted in 1986 to protect several vulnerable species. Pro-whaling nations, including Japan, Norway and Iceland, argue that it can be lifted because whale populations have rebounded.

Syrians vote in referendum

DAMASCUS, Syria — Posters plastered on walls of the capital and songs blaring from cars and loudspeakers proclaimed “We love you” as Syrians voted Sunday in a referendum to endorse President Bashar Assad — the only candidate — for a second term.

But the country’s tiny opposition boycotted the voting, saying Syrians should have a choice in who governs them. And critics of Assad’s regime accuse him of clamping down on pro-democracy activists, rampant corruption and mass arrests, though many are fearful of openly expressing dissent.

Copyright 2005 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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