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In Croatia, pope backs EU bid

ZAGREB, Croatia - Pope Benedict XVI strongly backed Croatia's bid to join the European Union as he arrived in the Balkan nation Saturday, but said he could understand fears among skeptics of the EU's "overly strong" centralized bureaucracy.

The pontiff also expressed the Vatican's long-running concern that Europe needs to be reminded of its Christian roots "for the sake of historical truth" as he began his first trip as pope to deeply Roman Catholic Croatia.

Benedict was spending the weekend to mark the Croatian church's national family day, and he was warmly welcomed by thousands of young Croats who waited in a steady rain for the pope to arrive for an evening prayer vigil.

Croatia expects to learn this month or next if negotiations to join the 27-member EU bloc can be concluded, with membership expected in 2012 or 2013.

- AP

Assange: Leaks harmed no one

HAY-ON-WYE, Wales - No one has come to harm as a result of WikiLeaks' publication of thousands of classified documents, the site's founder said Saturday, accusing his critics of opposing the revelations because of "middle-class squeamishness."

Julian Assange told an audience at the Hay literary festival in Wales that "there are no official allegations in the public domain" of anyone being hurt by the secret-spilling site's disclosures.

Assange said WikiLeaks had "played a significant role" in the uprisings sweeping the Arab world by publishing secret documents about those countries' authoritarian regimes.

- AP

New mines being laid in S. Sudan

JUBA, Sudan - An increase in military battles in Southern Sudan has resulted in the laying of new land mines, reversing the time-consuming progress de-miners had made to clear the south of mines after two decades of civil war, a U.N. mine expert said Saturday.

Tim Horner, deputy director of the U.N. Mine Action Office in Southern Sudan, said the new mines are causing civilian and military casualties and are preventing aid groups from helping populations in the oil-producing greater Upper Nile region, where rebel militias are battling the southern army.

Horner said his agency believes that the militia groups are laying mines.

- AP

New Delhi police hit hunger strike

NEW DELHI - Hundreds of police officers swooped down on the venue of a hunger strike by an Indian yoga guru protesting the nation's endemic corruption and forcibly removed him and thousands of his supporters.

Police spokesman Rajan Bhagat said officers detained Baba Ramdev early Sunday, but later released him.

Ramdev and tens of thousands of his supporters in New Delhi and elsewhere in India began an indefinite hunger strike Saturday in protest of a culture in which everything from getting a driver's license to setting up a business involves paying bribes.

- AP