25 Dead as Sectarian Battles

Rock Northern Nigerian City

KANO, Nigeria -- Muslim militants fought street battles with Christians on Wednesday in a second day of rioting that killed at least 25 people in this northern Nigerian city.

Braving heavily armed troops and police, bands of Muslim youths armed with clubs burned houses and set up roadblocks to kill minority Christians and avenge the slaying of hundreds of Muslims by Christians in a land dispute in central Nigeria last week. Police used live ammunition to restore order.

The police commissioner confirmed that 30 people were killed in two days, including 25 on Wednesday, but a senior security source said at least twice that number were dead.

THE AMERICAS

* BRASILIA -- President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva was criticized for deciding to expel a New York Times correspondent who had written a story saying the Brazilian leader was a heavy drinker.

The newspaper protested the order against its correspondent, Larry Rohter, and said it "would take appropriate action to defend his rights."

Rohter's visa was canceled and he was given eight days to leave the country -- the first expulsion of a journalist since the 20-year military dictatorship ended in 1984. The last time a foreign journalist was expelled was in the 1970s.

The article, published Sunday and headlined "Brazilian Leader's Tippling Becomes National Concern," recapped rumors that had long circulated among journalists in the capital.

* BOGOTA, Colombia -- Colombia's army said it captured Francisco Prada Mosquera, a top member of the banned paramilitary United Self-Defense Forces of Colombia, at a ranch in Cesar province.

The government has been trying to negotiate peace with the 20,000-member group for about a year, but it has never suspended arrest warrants for its members.

THE MIDDLE EAST

* DAMASCUS, Syria -- Other Arab countries, including close U.S. allies, joined Syria in denouncing U.S. economic sanctions imposed on Syria on Tuesday. Europe ignored the penalties by dispatching a trade delegation to Damascus.

Some Arabs questioned the validity of the measures and their motives, saying they served Israeli interests. The U.S. government says Syria is being punished for supporting terrorism and interfering with efforts to stabilize Iraq.

Lebanon could provide a major loophole around the sanctions, which ban all U.S. exports to Syria except food and medicine and prohibit flights between Syria and the United States. Goods have traditionally flowed across the border from Lebanon to Syria.

ASIA

* BEIJING -- A court on Thursday sentenced a dissident, Yang Jianli of suburban Boston, to five years in prison on charges of spying and illegal border crossing, the official New China News Agency said.

Yang, a Chinese citizen with permanent U.S. residency, was detained on April 26, 2002, while trying to board a flight in the southwestern city of Kunming using a false identity card.

-- From News Services