World briefs (1/27/13)

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Prison emptied over deadly riot

CARACAS, Venezuela -- Venezuela's top prisons official said the government was evacuating a prison Saturday after a deadly riot that killed 61 people dead amid a clash between National Guard soldiers and armed inmates.

Penitentiary Service Minister Iris Varela said officials decided to evacuate all inmates from the Uribana prison in the central city of Barquisimeto after the bloodshed on Friday in order to "close this chapter of violence." Ms. Varela said inmates were being taken to other facilities. She spoke in a televised news conference and did not immediately give a death toll.

But Ruy Medina, director of Central Hospital in the city of Barquisimeto. told The Associated Press that 61 had died and 120 were injured, mostly from gunshots.

Chavez medical update

SANTIAGO, Chile -- Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez has defeated a respiratory infection and has begun additional medical treatment in Cuba after struggling with complications following cancer surgery more than six weeks ago, a government spokesman said Saturday.

Venezuelan Information Minister Ernesto Villegas said that it remains unclear how soon Mr. Chavez could return home, and did not specify the kind of treatment he is receiving.

"Vice President [Nicolas] Maduro estimates that the time it could take President Chavez to return is within weeks. But we haven't wanted to fix an exact time frame for the president's recuperation," Mr. Villegas told reporters on the sidelines of a 60-nation summit in Chile.

He read a statement that went beyond past government reports in providing additional information about Mr. Chavez's Dec. 11 surgery, but didn't describe the newest treatment.

Militant clash kills 24

PESHAWAR, Pakistan -- Two Islamic militant groups clashed Saturday over control of a prized valley in northwest Pakistan, killing at least 24 people and wounding dozens more, officials said.

Arshad Khan of the Khyber tribal region said the fighting between the two Islamic militant groups began Friday in Tirah valley, near the Afghan border, when the militant group, Tehrik-e-Taliban, captured the base of another militant group, Ansarul Islam. Ansarul Islam tried to retake the base and fighting continued into Saturday.

Maliki's rule challenged

BAGHDAD -- In the bloody aftermath of street protests that turned violent Friday in Fallujah, Iraq's Parliament passed a law Saturday intended to prevent Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki from seeking a third term.

The parliamentary move was the latest threat to Mr. Maliki's hold on power and reflected rising anger among rivals over his rule, but it appeared unlikely that the law, which would need to be approved by Iraq's president, would ever go into effect.

Ex-PM wins presidency

PRAGUE -- Milos Zeman, a former leftist prime minister and economist known for his outspoken populism, was elected president of the Czech Republic on Saturday, becoming the country's first popularly elected president.

The election of Mr. Zeman, 68, an avowed supporter of European integration, signals the end of the era of Vaclav Klaus, the Czech president for the past 10 years, whose vociferous skepticism of the European Union and scorn for the battle against climate change made him a sometimes awkward partner in Europe and the United States.

-- Compiled from news services

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