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Central African rebels advance

BANGUI, Central African Republic - Rebels in Central African Republic have taken another town under their control just days after they said they were halting their advance.

Regional official Jean-Baptiste Manikaou says the rebels gained control of Bambari, about 240 miles from the capital, over the weekend.

Maxime Andjingbayo, a local priest, says government forces fled Bambari after about two hours of gunfire.

Rebel Col. Djouma Narkoyo called the move preventative action aimed at blocking government forces from preparing a counterattack.

Josue Binoua, a government minister, said that if the rebels want peace, they should respect the mediation efforts under way and halt their advance.

The rebels began taking towns earlier this month, saying they wanted to renegotiate past peace deals with the government of this desperately poor African nation. - AP

China tests high-speed rail

China tested its 1,428-mile high-speed rail line, the longest in the world, as it prepares to start passenger service in two days.

Bullet trains on the line from Beijing to southern Chinese city of Guangzhou can run at an average speed of 186 m.p.h., the official Xinhua news agency said. It will shorten the rail travel time from the capital to the Pearl River Delta to about eight hours from the previous 24 hours.

China is accelerating railway investment again after it introduced new safety measures following a deadly bullet-train crash in Wenzhou that killed 40 people in July 2011. Railway investment as of October had risen almost 250 percent from a year earlier as the government stepped up fiscal measures to help growth.

More than 100 Chinese and international journalists were invited to join the Dec. 22 test run, Xinhua said. - Bloomberg

Troops rescue pirate hostages

NAIROBI, Kenya - Authorities in Somalia's semiautonomous Puntland region say their forces raided a hijacked ship and safely rescued 22 hostages who had been held captive for nearly three years.

A statement from the Puntland government said Saturday their forces captured the Panama-flagged MV Iceberg 1, which was docked near the Gara'ad coastal village in Mudung region.

Puntland Ports and Anti-piracy Minister Saeed Mohamed Rage told the Associated Press the crew members include eight Yemenis, five Indians, two Pakistanis, four Ghanaians, two Sudanese, and a Philippine. The ship was hijacked March 29, 2010.

- AP