World news briefs: 5/19/14

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Protests halted in Vietnam

HANOI, Vietnam -- Vietnamese authorities forcibly broke up small protests against China in two cities on Sunday, after deadly anti-China rampages over a flaring territorial dispute risked damaging the economy and spooked a state used to keeping a tight grip on its people.

In southern Ho Chi Minh City, police dragged away several demonstrators from a park in the city center. In Hanoi, authorities closed off streets and a park close to the Chinese Embassy and pushed journalists and protesters away. Police were posted outside well-known dissidents houses, preventing them from leaving, according to activists.

Ukraine fights rebels

DONETSK, Ukraine -- Ukrainian forces Sunday fought insurgents in the country's east, killing one rebel and losing a police station, as separatists prepared for an election later this year after declaring independence and saying they want to join Russia.

Masked men set fire to a candidate's regional campaign office before a May 25 presidential ballot as government troops and insurgents skirmished in Ukraine's Donbass regions of Donetsk and Luhansk. The separatists, who hold buildings and radio and television towers in about 15 cities, said they'd hold a vote, possibly around Sept. 14, to elect new officials for their self-proclaimed "Donetsk People's Republic."

Swiss reject wage increase

GENEVA, Switzerland -- Swiss voters Sunday rejected the world's highest national minimum wage, striking down a proposal for an hourly rate of 22 francs ($25).

The initiative was opposed by 76.3 percent of voters, the government in Bern said yesterday. Polls, including one by gfs.bern, forecast that outcome.

Video suggests foul play

BOGOTA, Colombia -- In a jerky five-minute video released Saturday, a man sitting in front of a bank of computer screens tells one of Colombia's leading presidential candidates that he has access to privileged information from Colombian military intelligence and the U.S. Southern Command.

The video suggests that Oscar Ivan Zuluaga, who leads some polls for the May 25 race against President Juan Manuel Santos, and his campaign were knowingly resorting to classified and illicit information in their efforts to unseat Mr. Santos.

Israel's PM steps back

JERUSALEM -- Israel's prime minister has distanced himself from a closed-door meeting that took place last week between Israel's chief peace negotiator and the Palestinian president following the collapse of peace talks, an Israeli official said Sunday.

The official said Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told negotiator Tzipi Livni she could only represent herself in the meeting, not the Israeli government. The official spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to comment publicly on the matter.

Rebels take 30 hostages

BAMAKO, Mali -- Separatist Tuareg rebels launched an assault on the northern Mali city of Kidal over the weekend, killing eight soldiers, storming government buildings and taking 30 hostages in a "declaration of war" on the government, officials said Sunday.

The attack was apparently prompted by a visit to Kidal on Saturday by newly appointed Prime Minister Moussa Mara, highlighting regional hostility toward the central government in Bamako and casting further doubt on the viability of reconciliation efforts.

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