Fire at day care kills 29 in Mexico

MEXICO CITY - Flames engulfed a day-care center in the northern Mexican city of Hermosillo yesterday, killing at least 29 children and sending dozens more to the hospital, an official said.

The fire apparently started at a car and tire depot and spread to the ABC day-care center, said Jose Larrinaga, a spokesman for Sonora state investigators. He said that the fire was controlled within two hours and that most of the victims had died of asphyxiation.

"We're still investigating what caused the fire and where exactly it started," Larrinaga said. Guadalupe Ayala, coordinator of Red Cross rescue workers, said that about 100 children were inside the privately owned day-care center when it caught fire.

- AP

Pope sees clergy over Irish report

VATICAN CITY - Pope Benedict XVI expressed solidarity with victims abused by clergy in Ireland in a meeting with the country's top churchmen yesterday, following a report detailing decades of abuse at church-run reform schools, the Vatican said.

Benedict held a long meeting with Cardinal Sean Brady of Armagh and Dublin Archbishop Diarmuid Martin, who briefed the pope on the report, said a Vatican spokesman, the Rev. Federico Lombardi.

The Irish government-funded independent report last month detailed "endemic" molestation and rape at church-run boys' facilities and ritualized beatings at girls' schools from the 1930s to the 1990s.

The 2,600-page report - which took nine years to compile and was resisted by Roman Catholic religious orders that ran the facilities - concluded that church officials shielded pedophiles from arrest amid a culture of self-serving secrecy. In 2006, Benedict told Irish bishops that the Catholic Church must urgently rebuild trust damaged by clerical sex abuse.

- AP

Indians battle police in Amazon

LIMA, Peru - Indians protesting oil and gas exploration on their lands battled police in Peru's remote Amazon yesterday, with authorities and Indian leaders separately reporting 11 police and 25 protester deaths.

The violence broke out as officers tried to end a road blockade by about 5,000 Indians in an area called Curva del Diablo - or "Devil's Curve" - in the northern province of Utcubamba.

Protest leaders said police opened fire from helicopters with bullets and tear gas, while the national police director said Indians attacked police with firearms. - AP