World briefs (9/20/13)

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Mexico storm toll 97; dozens are missing

MEXICO CITY -- Rescue teams were searching Thursday for dozens of people believed buried in a mudslide after two tropical storms battered large swaths of the country, killing nearly 100 nationwide and leaving thousands stranded or homeless.

While much attention was focused on tourists caught in the Pacific resort of Acapulco, even grimmer reports emerged from that hard-hit region, where villages were largely cut off from aid and may have suffered large-scale devastation.

Luis Felipe Puente, national Civil Protection coordinator, said the death toll climbed to 97 people in nine states. He said authorities were searching an area of Guerrero state called La Pintada, in the county of Atoyac de Alvarez, where at least 58 people were reported missing after a mudslide. Rescue operations have already evacuated more than 300 people.

Afghan police attacked

KABUL, Afghanistan -- Taliban insurgents have reportedly captured or killed large numbers of Afghan government forces in the remote and usually quiet northeastern corner of the country for the second time this year, officials said Thursday.

Dawlat Mohammad, governor of Warduj District, said insurgents ambushed a police convoy in the district Wednesday, killing 10 policemen and taking 16 others prisoner.

A text message sent to journalists from a Taliban official claimed the insurgents had killed 25 policemen and taken 12 prisoner. But Thursday a spokesman for the Afghan Interior Ministry disputed both claims, saying no police officers had been captured.

Infighting among rebels

BEIRUT -- Al-Qaida militants seized a town near the Turkish border Thursday after expelling Western-backed rebels from the area, demonstrating the growing power of jihadis as they seek to expand their influence across opposition-held Syrian territory.

The infighting -- now engulfing many parts of northern Syria -- threatened to further split opposition forces outgunned by President Bashar Assad's troops and strengthen his hand as he engages with world powers on relinquishing his chemical weapons.

Large-scale oil theft

DAKAR, Senegal -- Oil is being stolen on an "industrial scale" in Nigeria, the world's 13th-largest producer, and the country's politicians and security officials are among those profiting, according to a new report from a prominent British research group.

Thieves steal an estimated average of 100,000 barrels a day, the report said. Working in elaborate networks and protected by corrupted security officials, they tap into the huge and isolated network of pipes that crisscross the country's swampy southern Niger Delta region.

Much of this oil winds up being exported globally, said the report, released Thursday by the London-based organization Chatham House.

Police accused of lying

JOHANNESBURG -- South African police lied, withheld documents and apparently doctored other papers during a government-appointed investigation of the police killings of 34 striking miners last year, a state panel said Thursday.

The revelation by the Marikana Commission of Inquiry is bound to heighten concerns about the police force which is struggling to stem high crime rates, and points to wider concerns among some South Africans who believe the nation has not lived up to the high expectations that prevailed when all-race elections were held for the first time in 1994 to end white minority rule.

-- Compiled from news services

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