40 in Taliban die in Afghan battles

KANDAHAR, Afghanistan - Afghan and NATO troops battled Taliban militants in a series of clashes in the country's south that left 40 insurgents dead, an official said yesterday.

The joint force clashed with fighters in the mountainous Shah Wali Kot district in Kandahar province during a three-day operation that ended Saturday and left 35 insurgents dead, said provincial police chief Sayed Agha Saqib.

In Kandahar's Zhari district, allied troops clashed with another group of insurgents hiding in a compound Saturday night, killing five and detaining four, Saqib said. There were no casualties among allied troops, he said.

- AP

Democrat wins Hong Kong vote

HONG KONG - Pro-democracy candidate Anson Chan, a popular former government official, won a seat in Hong Kong's legislature yesterday, a win she hailed as a victory for democracy in the southern Chinese territory.

Chan received 54.6 percent of the ballots cast, according to official results announced early today. The race, billed as a referendum on democracy, was one of the most keenly watched elections since the territory was returned to China a decade ago.

"The result of this election indicates that Hong Kong people are anxious to put forward democracy," Chan said on hearing of her win.

- AP

Castro is likely to stay in office

MIAMI - Fidel Castro was nominated for a seat in Cuba's national legislature yesterday, paving the way for him to continue as head of state despite the illness that has sidelined him for more than a year.

Municipal assemblies throughout Cuba met yesterday to nominate candidates for the Jan. 20 election for the National Assembly. That assembly then chooses the council of state, which in turn selects the island's president.

According to news reports, Castro, 81, was nominated in Santiago de Cuba, the city he has represented in the legislature since 1976. Had he been left off the list of candidates, it would have been the first step in a formal change of power. Castro handed day-to-day power to his brother Raul, the defense minister, in July 2006.

- McClatchy Newspapers

Elsewhere:

Ebola hemorrhagic fever

has killed 16 people and may have infected 35 others in Uganda, the World Health Organization said.

A South Korean couple

got married at a mountain resort in North Korea, becoming the first South Koreans to hold a wedding ceremony in the isolated communist country, according to a spokesman for South Korea's Hyundai Asan, which runs the resort.