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Trains strand 2,000 in tunnel

LONDON - More than 2,000 people were stranded beneath the English Channel for up to 16 hours when their Eurostar trains came to a halt in a tunnel, leaving many of them without food, water - or any idea of what was happening.

In the end, they all emerged safe on Friday night, but some suffered claustrophobia or panic attacks, and many passengers complained that Eurostar staff members had done little to help them through the ordeal, which forced some to walk part of the dark tunnel, 24 miles of which is under water.

Eurostar's executives have offered apologies, refunds, free travel, and more, but the company has canceled all passenger services through the Channel Tunnel until tomorrow in an effort to figure out what happened.

Eurostar officials have speculated that the quick transition from the icy cold of France, which is suffering some of its worst winter weather in years, to the relative warmth of the tunnel could have interfered with the trains' electrical systems.

- AP

Workers targeted at Gaza border

GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip - Shots were fired from the Gaza Strip yesterday at Egyptians installing an underground barrier meant to choke off the smuggling of goods and weapons through tunnels into blockaded Gaza.

No one was reported injured in the attack, Palestinian and Egyptian officials said. But Egypt increased security in the border area after the fourth cross-border shooting since workers began building the metal barrier several weeks ago.

The construction would tighten a blockade imposed on Gaza by Egypt and Israel after the Islamic militant group Hamas seized power over the tiny coastal territory in 2007. An Egyptian security official said that nearly the full force of the 750-member border guard was called to the area, and dozens of additional armored vehicles were deployed near the frontier.

- AP

Cambodia sends Uighurs to China

PHNOM PENH, Cambodia - A group of Muslims who fled China after deadly ethnic rioting and sought asylum in Cambodia were sent back home yesterday, even though rights groups fear they face persecution and possibly execution there.

An Interior Ministry spokesman, Lt. Gen. Khieu Sopheak, said the 20 members of the Uighur minority had been put on a special plane sent from China that left Phnom Penh International Airport last night. "They are going back to China," he said.

Cambodia has been under intense pressure from China to deport the Uighurs, whom Beijing has called criminals after they fled the country with the help of a secret network of missionaries. The expulsion came a day before Chinese Vice President Xi Jinping visits Cambodia as part of a four-country tour.

- AP