World briefs: Shots preceded detention of 4 in Libya

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WASHINGTON -- The detention of four U.S. military personnel in Libya on Friday was preceded by a confrontation at a checkpoint in which gunshots were fired and a vehicle was damaged, a witness in Libya and an Obama administration official said Saturday.

Details about the confrontation, which occurred about an hour's drive west of Tripoli, remained unclear Saturday. The four military personnel, assigned to the U.S. Embassy in Tripoli, were held for several hours and then released.

The State Department said the four Americans had been stopped in western Libya near the historic Roman ruins at Sabratha and that they had been involved in "security preparedness efforts," which other administration officials said involved canvassing potential evacuation routes.

China targeting graft

BEIJING -- China's ruling Communist Party vowed to curb corruption following a report that hundreds of regional lawmakers accepted bribes and dozens committed electoral fraud.

A total of 512 delegates in the People's Congress in Hengyang city in Hunan province resigned Friday after they were found to have taken bribes, Xinhua News Agency reported. Another 56 provincial-level congress delegates from Hengyang were found to have used more than 110 million yuan ($18 million) to win elections that later were declared invalid.

China is stepping up a crackdown on bribes in moves that underscore President Xi Jinping's determination to root out graft.

Terror attack warning

BEIJING -- Chinese officials and police have been told to step up precautions in "key regions" and be on alert for terrorist attacks during the New Year and Spring Festival holidays amid ethnic tensions in Xinjiang.

The order was given by the Communist Party Central Committee and the State Council, the Xinhua News Agency reported.

The warning follows what the Xinjiang government described as a terrorist attack on police in the restive northwest province earlier this month that left 16 people dead, and a disturbance in November that killed 11. China has also linked a Uighur militant group founded in the region to an October incident in which a vehicle rammed into a crowd near Tiananmen Square in Beijing and burst into flames, killing the three occupants and two bystanders.

Health worker killed

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan -- A health worker supervising a polio vaccination campaign was fatally shot Saturday when gunmen opened fire at a hospital in northwestern Pakistan.

No one immediately took responsibility, but the Taliban, which accuses the U.S. of using a drive to eradicate polio in the country as a cover for spying, has threatened the lives of health workers who immunize children.

Officials said two gunmen on a motorbike opened fire at the hospital in Matni, a suburb of Peshawar. Zahid Gul, who was overseeing the vaccination campaign, was killed and another man and a woman were wounded in the attack. The gunmen fled.

Also in the world ...

A fire engulfed a coach of an express train near Puttaparthi in Andhra Pradesh state in southern India on Saturday, killing at least 26 passengers, many of whom became trapped and suffocated after the doors failed to open, officials said. ... Gunmen killed an anti-government activist and wounded two others in Thailand's capital of Bangkok Saturday, while protesters elsewhere blocked candidates from registering for upcoming elections, deepening a political crisis that threatens to derail democracy in the Southeast Asian nation.


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