World briefs (10/11/12)

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'Terror cell' is broken up in France

PARIS -- Police have broken up "an extremely dangerous terrorist cell" whose members possessed bomb-making materials and a list of Jewish organizations in the Paris region.

Prosecutor Francois Molins said Wednesday that as a result of the discoveries, 12 young men who were arrested Saturday would be retained for questioning for another two days under anti-terrorism legislation allowing six days of interrogation without charges in cases of a serious risk of "imminent" terrorist violence.

Jeremie Louis-Sidney, 33, said to be the group's leader, was shot and killed Saturday after he opened fire as police moved in to arrest him in the eastern city of Strasbourg.

N. Korea issues warning

SEOUL, South Korea -- North Korea said Wednesday that it felt freer to test a long-range missile now that Washington has agreed to let South Korea nearly triple the reach of its ballistic missiles, putting all of the North within its range.

The warning, in a statement from the North's Foreign Ministry, came a day after the North Korean government claimed to have missiles capable of striking targets on the U.S. mainland.

The U.S.-South Korean missile agreement, which was announced Sunday, "poured cold water on all efforts to stabilize the situation on the Korean Peninsula and in the region, including our restraint from launching long-range missiles," the North's statement said.

1 band member set free

MOSCOW -- An appellate court Wednesday set free one of three jailed members of a punk protest band but upheld the two-year prison sentences of her band mates, issuing a split decision in a case that has drawn international condemnation of Russia over the suppression of political speech.

The ruling upheld the guilty verdict against all three women on charges of hooliganism motivated by religious hatred, stemming from a "punk prayer" performance in the city's main cathedral in February in which they urged the Virgin Mary to rid Russia of Vladimir Putin.

The judges ordered the release of Yekaterina Samutsevich, 30, accepting an argument by her new lawyer that she had far less of a role than Nadezhda Tolokonnikova, 22, and Maria Alyokhina, 24 -- both mothers of young children -- who were ordered to serve the remainder of their sentences in a prison colony.

A downgrade for Spain

NEW YORK -- Standard & Poor's downgraded its rating on Spain's debt Wednesday by two notches, leaving it on the cusp of junk status.

A grinding recession, high unemployment and social unrest are limiting the government's options for stemming the country's financial crisis, S&P said. The credit-rating agency now rates debt issued by Spain BBB-, its lowest investment-grade status. It had been BBB+.

S&P assigned a negative outlook to the rating, saying it could be further downgraded if Spain's economic conditions erode further.

Search continues for body

PACHUCA, Mexico -- Even in death, drug lord Heriberto Lazcano Lazcano got no rest Wednesday, his missing corpse the subject of a federal manhunt in northern Mexico.

Navy spokesman Jose Luis Vergara tried to persuade his skeptical countrymen that the founder of the brutal Los Zetas crime gang had indeed been slain over the weekend. "One hundred percent sure," Mr. Vergara told MVS Radio.

But the missing body, doubts about whether the size of the corpse was a match to Lazcano, 37, and reticence by U.S. officials to congratulate Mexico all added to suspicions about the case.

-- Compiled from news services

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