U.S. moves 2 out of Guantanamo

SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico - Two men from western China who have been held for nearly a decade without charge at the Guantanamo Bay prison amid a diplomatic struggle to find them homes, have been resettled in El Salvador, the U.S. military and lawyers for the men said Thursday.

The men, ethnic Uighurs from a region of China roiled by a separatist movement, are learning Spanish and gratefully settling into their new home in the Central American country, lawyers for the men said.

Their release brings the prisoner population at the U.S. base in Cuba to 169.

Uighurs at Guantanamo posed a huge diplomatic headache for the U.S. government. Twenty-two were captured in Afghanistan at the start of the war and shipped to the base in Cuba because officials suspected they had links to al-Qaeda. It turned out they had merely fled their homeland in search of opportunities and freedom. American law forbids extraditing people to countries where they could face persecution and torture. - AP

Mali junta frees 22 after uproar

BAMAKO, Mali - The junta that seized power in a coup last month announced late Thursday that it had released 22 people whose arrests this week had prompted international criticism.

The arrests of senior politicians and military personnel took place even though Mali now has a civilian president and prime minister. Those opposed to the coup said the arrests showed that the soldiers who carried out the coup were not ready to hand over power.

In a statement issued late Thursday, Col. Diamou Keita said he was informing "national and international public opinion" of the detainees' release.

Both the president and the prime minister had called for the soldiers to respect legal procedures if they had any evidence that the people detained had committed crimes. The regional body ECOWAS, the European Union, and the U.N. had all called for the immediate release of those detained. - AP

U.N. chief urges new Sudan talks

JUBA, South Sudan - U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon urged Sudan and South Sudan on Thursday to step back from the brink of war and return to the negotiating table.

Ban called on South Sudan to immediately withdraw its forces from the oil-rich Heglig area, calling their invasion "an infringement on the sovereignty of Sudan and a clearly illegal act." He called on the government of Sudan to immediately stop shelling and bombing South Sudanese territory and withdraw its forces from disputed territories including Abyei.

The secretary-general said both countries "must stop supporting proxy forces against each other." - AP

Elsewhere:

A shark killed a surfer off Cape Town on Thursday, South African police said. Police spokesman Andre Traut said the 20-year-old was in the water with his brother and a friend at the time of the attack. Police did not immediately release the man's name.

Mexico's Popocatepetl volcano hurled super-heated rock fragments half a mile into the air early Thursday and officials warn more and bigger outbursts are likely.