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Hungarian Socialists Win Runoff Election

ASIA

· SEOUL -- South Korea proposed sending captured North Korean spies home in exchange for the release of South Korean citizens believed held in the North.

The overture came a day after Seoul hinted at economic assistance to Pyongyang if it cooperates in addressing the issue of an estimated 486 South Koreans abducted by the North and believed still to be living there. South Korea says the North is holding 542 others taken prisoner during the 1950-53 Korean War.

In 2000, the South repatriated 63 North Korean spies to their homeland. Another 28 alleged North Korean spies in South Korea have demanded repatriation.

· KANDAHAR, Afghanistan -- Afghan security forces surrounded Taliban fighters hiding in a village in southern Afghanistan. At least three of the fighters and a police officer were killed, a provincial governor said.

Elsewhere in the region, Taliban fighters attacked an Afghan construction company working for coalition forces, killing a security guard.

THE MIDDLE EAST

· GAZA CITY -- Tensions between the Hamas-led government and President Mahmoud Abbas's Fatah faction flared into a shootout at the Palestinian Health Ministry in Gaza, just hours after pledges to calm internal unrest.

In Bethlehem, in the West Bank, Israeli forces killed two Palestinians after firing on a car the army said was carrying wanted men. Palestinian security sources said one of the dead was a security force member.

· TEHRAN -- Iran said its nuclear program is irreversible, again rejecting an approaching U.N. Security Council deadline to cease enriching uranium.

AFRICA

· MOGADISHU, Somalia -- At least three Somalis were killed and nine wounded as clashes erupted between rival militias responsible for the capital's worst violence in years, witnesses said.

· FREETOWN, Sierra Leone -- A group of chimpanzees attacked and killed a Sierra Leonean driver and injured two American visitors and a Canadian at a wildlife sanctuary in the West African nation, a police spokesman said.

-- From News Services


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