World briefs: Liberals win Quebec poll

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QUEBEC CITY -- Quebec voters returned the Liberal Party to power in elections Monday, as the party capitalized on fears that the separatist Parti Quebecois would seek another vote on splitting from Canada.

The Liberals, led by neurosurgeon Philippe Couillard, will win the election, broadcaster TVA and ICI Radio-Canada projected. But it remained unclear whether the Liberals would form a majority or minority government. Radio-Canada said the Liberals were elected or leading in 70 of 125 districts, enough to form a majority.

Mr. Couillard, 56, seized on Quebec voters' fears of another referendum on taking the mostly French-speaking province out of Canada, stressing that separation is at the heart of the PQ's platform.

Gigantic polling starts

GAUHATI, India -- Voters in India's remote northeast cast ballots on the first day of the world's biggest election Monday, with the opposition heading into the polls with strong momentum on promises of a surge in economic growth.

With 814 million eligible voters, India will vote in stages over the next five weeks in a staggered approach made necessary by the country's vast size. Voters will choose representatives for the 543-seat lower house of parliament.

Results from all 935,000 polling stations are expected on May 16. The opposition Bharatiya Janata Party and its candidate for prime minister, Narendra Modi, are seen as the biggest threats to the now-governing Congress party.

Hagel tours aircraft carrier

BEIJING -- The United States' campaign to encourage China to be more open about its military growth and intentions got a symbolic boost Monday with a tour for Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel of the country's first aircraft carrier, but efforts to get the Asian giant to be more transparent about cyberattacks and other defense operations has been less successful.

Mr. Hagel got a rare tour of China's first aircraft carrier, becoming the first foreign visitor to go aboard the ship, according to Chinese leaders.

Bomb kills 15 travelers

KANDAHAR, Afghanistan -- A roadside bomb in southern Afghanistan killed at least 15 people traveling in vehicles that had been diverted from a main road Monday after an earlier suicide bombing there that caused no other deaths, officials said.

The two SUVs carrying the civilians hit the hidden explosives on a side road that was being used because authorities blocked the main road following a suicide bombing targeting a NATO convoy in Kandahar province, the local government spokesman said.

The Taliban claimed responsibility for the earlier attack Monday but blamed international forces for the roadside bombing, saying the foreign forces were trying to hurt the reputation of the Islamic militant movement by making it look like the Taliban were killing civilians.

Activists' sentences

CAIRO -- An appeals court on Monday dealt another blow to the Egypt's beleaguered liberal activists, upholding three-year prison terms handed down to a trio of figures known for their role in the country's 2011 revolution.

The three -- Ahmed Maher, Ahmed Douma and Mohamed Adel -- had been convicted in December of violating a tough anti-protest law that took effect the previous month. The appeals court also upheld heavy fines levied against the trio -- 50,000 Egyptian pounds each, which is more than $7,000.

-- Compiled from news services

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