World briefs: Congo rebels retreating

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GOMA, Congo -- Rebels believed to be backed by Rwanda began retreating from the territory they seized last week and pulled out of the region of Masisi, their military leader said Wednesday, in the first concrete sign that international pressure has stemmed the advance of the fighters.

Gen. Sultani Makenga, the military chief for the 8-month-old rebellion known as M23, said his fighters intend to abide by an ultimatum issued by neighboring nations that called for their withdrawal from Goma by Friday.

The M23 rebel group is made up of hundreds of soldiers who deserted the Congolese army in April. Since then they have occupied numerous villages and towns in mineral-rich eastern Congo, culminating in the seizing of the crucial, provincial capital of Goma last week.

Bestiality ban pushed

BERLIN -- A German lawmaker says Parliament is close to passing a law explicitly banning bestiality after animal rights groups and tabloid newspapers pushed for existing legislation to be clarified.

Max Lehmer, a lawmaker with Chancellor Angela Merkel's governing coalition, said Wednesday after a meeting of Parliament's agriculture committee that the ban would make sex with animals punishable with a fine. A vote is expected in December.

Politicians took up the issue after it became clear a law banning cruelty to animals was not specific enough to prohibit the practice explicitly.

Saudi diplomat killed

SANAA, Yemen -- Gunmen killed a Saudi diplomat and his Yemeni bodyguard on a busy street in the capital here Wednesday, the latest in a string of assassinations of government figures in this impoverished Middle Eastern country.

Sgt. Khalid al-Onizi, a military attache in the Saudi Arabian Embassy here, was inside his four-wheel-drive vehicle about noon when another vehicle blocked the road, a Yemeni security official said. The gunmen stepped out of their vehicle and began firing into the diplomat's car.

Saudi Arabia, which shares its southern border with Yemen, is playing a key role in helping the Yemeni government and the United States battle al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula.

Striking drivers return

SINGAPORE -- Dozens of bus drivers who went on strike in Singapore this week returned to work Wednesday after authorities moved to clamp down on the rare public display of labor discord in the city-state.

The rate of attendance is "back to normal" and all bus services are "running as scheduled," SMRT Corp., the nation's biggest subway operator and one of its two main bus companies, said Wednesday. Six Chinese-national drivers didn't turn up for work this morning, compared with 88 yesterday and 171 on Nov. 26, it said earlier.

Police were deployed to stand watch Wednesday as the workers stayed in their dormitories to express unhappiness over pay.

South Korea plans launch

SEOUL -- South Korea will make its third attempt to launch a civilian space rocket and satellite as speculation mounts that North Korea may defy the international community with another ballistic missile test.

The108-foot KSLV-I rocket, or Naro, is set to blast off from a site near Goheung, 200 miles south of Seoul, this afternoon carrying a research satellite, said Kim Yeon Hak, a deputy director at the science ministry. It will be the country's third attempt to put a satellite into orbit using a rocket built with a combination of domestic and Russian technology after calling off the launch Oct. 26 because of a technical problem.

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