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3 officials held in Shanghai fire

SHANGHAI - Prosecutors in Shanghai said Friday that they had detained three Chinese government officials for their role in a high-rise apartment fire that killed 58 people and injured about 70.

The government said the three officials were placed under criminal detention for abuse of power in allowing illegal construction activities to spark the Nov. 15 fire at a 28-story complex in central Shanghai. It was one of the city's deadliest fires in decades.

The fire created widespread anxiety in Shanghai about the safety of high-rise apartments and the ability of fire officials to control blazes. The government vowed to upgrade its firefighting equipment.

Investigators blamed unregistered welders and a state-owned construction company for touching off the fire by igniting nylon netting and bamboo scaffolding around the 13-year-old building, which was being renovated. - N.Y. Times News Service

Darfur rebels join to battle troops

CAIRO - Rival Darfur rebel groups have joined forces to fend off an attack by government troops in the latest fighting in Sudan's troubled western region, rebel leaders said Friday.

Darfur's most powerful rebel group, the Justice and Equality Movement, said Sudanese soldiers attacked rebel positions in North Darfur on Thursday near Dar al-Salam, south of the regional capital of El Fasher. The group said three rebels were killed and eight wounded.

The international peacekeeping mission in Darfur said it was gravely concerned about the reported clashes, and it urged those fighting to allow humanitarian access to civilians in the area.

Tensions between government forces and another Darfur rebel group, which signed a peace deal four years ago, over control of areas in Darfur sparked fighting earlier this month, sending thousands of civilians fleeing in fear. - AP

Detention plan protested in Israel

JERUSALEM - Hundreds of Israelis and African migrants marched down Tel Aviv's main boulevard Friday to protest a government plan to build a detention facility to hold people who enter the country illegally.

The government estimates that more than 30,000 Africans, mostly from Sudan and Eritrea, have entered Israel through the porous southern border with Egypt since 2005.

The Africans say they are fleeing conflict and poverty in their countries in hopes of finding relief and jobs in Israel. But many in Israel think the migrants are overwhelming the small state and threatening the country's Jewish character.

Last month, Israel announced plans for the detention center and began building a fence on long stretches of the Egyptian border. - AP


Prosecutors are charging a far-right Serbian leader, Milan Obradovic, with orchestrating violence during an October gay-pride march in Belgrade at which more than 150 people were hurt, with many shop windows smashed and cars destroyed in the Serbian capital. Serbia has pledged to protect human rights as it seeks European Union membership.