U.S. issues alert on Mexico travel

MEXICO CITY - The U.S. State Department is warning Americans to stay away from President Felipe Calderon's home state of Michoacan, where drug-cartel members killed 18 federal agents last month.

The alert issued yesterday does not recommend against traveling to Mexico but says violence has prompted the U.S. Embassy to urge Americans to delay unnecessary travel to Michoacan and the border state of Chihuahua, where two Americans were abducted and killed in July.

The department says Americans traveling in those areas should exercise extreme caution.

Michoacan is home to Monarch butterfly breeding grounds frequented by American tourists. The state erupted in violence last month when a drug cartel launched a series of attacks that killed 18 federal agents. Chihuahua is home to Mexico's deadliest city, Ciudad Juarez, with more than 1,300 murders this year.

- AP

Italy rescues 5 migrants at sea

ROME - Italian border police rescued five African migrants adrift for days in a dinghy off the tiny Sicilian island of Lampedusa yesterday. Survivors said up to 75 others died at sea, according to authorities.

Maltese officials later said seven bodies had been sighted in Libyan waters this week, but it was unclear if they were among the 75.

The four men and one woman, believed to be Eritreans, told rescuers they had set sail three weeks ago from Libya, Rocconi said. The border police said the boat's motor had run out of fuel.

- AP

Somalia battles leave 40 dead

MOGADISHU, Somalia - Fighting between government soldiers and Islamic insurgents killed at least 40 people in central Somalia yesterday as the warring sides tried to gain ground in strategic towns.

Witnesses also reported seeing troops from neighboring Ethiopia roll into the country, a development that would enrage insurgents who saw Ethiopia as an occupying force after it helped drive out Islamists in 2006.

Somalia has been ravaged by violence and anarchy since warlords overthrew dictator Mohamed Siad Barre in 1991, then turned against one another. Al-Shabab, which has foreign fighters in its ranks, operates openly in the capital and seeks to overthrow the government and impose a strict form of Islam in Somalia.

- AP

Elsewhere:

Bermuda issued a tropical-storm warning as Hurricane Bill regained some of its muscle, while dangerous waves and riptides were likely along most of the eastern U.S. coast over the weekend. The Category 3 storm's top winds increased to 125 m.p.h., and forecasters warned it could return to Category 4 strength by today as it feeds on warm Atlantic waters.

Police in London have arrested three men in connection with a daring $66 million jewelry heist earlier this month. They are still seeking at least four others in connection with the robbery.