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4 peacekeepers killed in Darfur

UNITED NATIONS - Four peacekeepers were killed and one injured in Darfur when one of the peacekeepers serving with the joint U.N.-African Union force opened fire at his comrades, the United Nations said Friday.

Kieran Dwyer, spokesman for the U.N. peacekeeping force, said the peacekeeping mission in Darfur, known as UNAMID, is investigating. He said there were no further details of the so-called "blue-on-blue" incident Thursday at a peacekeeping site in Mukjar in West Darfur.

More than 300,000 people have been killed in Darfur since rebels took up arms against the Sudanese government nearly 10 years ago, accusing it of discrimination and neglect. Violence has tapered off, but clashes continue.

UNAMID was established in July 2007 and given a key mandate of protecting civilians in Darfur, but it also contributes to security for those providing humanitarian aid, verifying agreements, political reconciliation efforts and promoting human rights. It currently has about 16,500 troops and military observers and more than 5,000 international police.

- AP

North Korea holds American

PYONGYANG, North Korea - North Korea said Friday that an American citizen has been detained after confessing to unspecified crimes, confirming news reports about his arrest at a time when Pyongyang is facing criticism from Washington for launching a long-range rocket last week.

The American was identified as Pae Jun Ho in a brief dispatch issued by the state-run Korean Central News Agency. News reports in the United States and South Korea said Pae is known in his home state of Washington as Kenneth Bae, a 44-year-old tour operator of Korean descent.

An expert said he is likely to become a bargaining chip for the North, an attempt to draw the United States into talks. Five other Americans known to have been detained in North Korea since 2009 were all eventually released. North Korean state media said Pae arrived in the far northeastern city of Rajin on Nov. 3 as part of a tour.

- AP

Italian premier stepping aside

LONDON - Prime Minister Mario Monti, the technocrat who guided Italy through economic turbulence for the last 13 months following the scandal-plagued rule of Silvio Berlusconi, resigned Friday to make way for new elections.

Monti's resignation Friday followed parliament's final approval of the last of his budgetary measures. He and his cabinet will remain in power as caretakers until the elections, expected in mid-February.

Monti, now a senator for life, could seek an active role in the coming government despite previous assertions that he has no such ambitions.

- Los Angeles Times