World Briefs / More troops to Central African Republic

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BANGUI, Central African Republic -- France and the African Union on Saturday announced plans to deploy several thousand more troops into embattled Central African Republic, as thousands of Christians fearing reprisal attacks sought refuge from the Muslim former rebels who now control the country after days of violence left nearly 400 people dead -- and possibly more.

Concluding an aptly-timed and long-planned conference on African security in Paris, President Francois Hollande said France was raising its deployment to 1,600 on Saturday -- 400 more than first announced. Later, after a meeting of regional nations about Central African Republic, his office said that African Union nations agreed to increase their total deployment to 6,000 -- up from about 2,500 now, and nearly double the projected rollout of 3,600 by year-end.

Amid new massacres Thursday, U.N. Security Council adopted a resolution that allows for a more muscular international effort to quell months or unrest in the country. Troops from France, the country's former colonial overseer, were patrolling roads in Bangui and fanning out into the troubled northwest on Saturday.

One of the world's poorest countries, Central African Republic has been wracked for decades by coups and rebellions.

Device targets Israelis

JERUSALEM -- The Israeli military said Saturday that an explosive device intended to target an Israeli patrol in the Golan Heights had detonated near the fence separating Syrian and Israeli-controlled territory -- slightly damaging an army vehicle -- the first such attack since the armistice line was established in 1973.

Errant fire from the Syrian civil war has landed in the Golan Heights scores of times over the past two years, and the Israeli military has responded at least a dozen times to attacks it judged to be intentional.

Mexico oil overhaul pushed

MEXICO CITY -- A Mexican senate committee on Saturday proposed the most dramatic oil overhaul in decades that would open the country's beleaguered, state-run sector to private companies and investment.

The Senate proposal would allow the government to grant contracts and licenses for exploration and extraction of oil and gas to multinational giants such as Exxon or Chevron, something that is currently prohibited under Mexico's constitution.

WTO OKs global trade deal

BALI, Indonesia -- A deal to boost global trade has been approved by the World Trade Organization's 159 member economies for the first time in nearly two decades, keeping alive the possibility that a broader agreement to create a level playing field for rich and poor countries can be reached in the future after the current summit in Indonesia closed Saturday.

The centerpiece of the agreement reached in Bali was measures to ease barriers to trade by simplifying customs procedures and making them more transparent.

Vet home from N. Korea

SAN FRANCISCO -- A tired but smiling 85-year-old U.S. veteran detained in North Korea for several weeks returned home Saturday to applause from supporters, yellow ribbons tied to pillars outside his home and the warm embrace of his family.

Merrill Newman was detained in late October at the end of a 10-day trip to North Korea, a visit that came six decades after he oversaw a group of South Korean wartime guerrillas during the 1950-53 war.



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