African nations may send force

BANGUI, Central African Republic - Central African Republic's neighbors agreed on Friday to dispatch a contingent of soldiers to intervene in the troubled country, where a coalition of rebel groups is seeking to overthrow the president.

Representatives from the 10-nation Economic Community of Central African States meeting in Gabon, though, did not specify how many troops they could contribute or how quickly the military assistance would arrive.

President Francois Bozize had pleaded for international help Thursday as fears grew that the rebels would attack the capital of 600,000 next. Former colonial power France already has said that its forces in the country are there to protect French interests and not Bozize's government.

The continuing instability prompted the United States to evacuate about 40 people, including the U.S. ambassador, said U.S. officials who insisted on anonymity. - AP

Rape victim dies in hospital

SINGAPORE - A young Indian woman who was gang-raped and severely beaten on a bus died Saturday at a Singapore hospital, after her horrific ordeal galvanized Indians to demand greater protection for women from sexual violence.

She "passed away peacefully" with her family and officials of the Indian Embassy by her side," said Kevin Loh, the chief executive of Mount Elizabeth hospital. He said the woman had remained in extremely critical condition since Thursday when she was flown to Singapore from India.

The woman and a male friend, who have not been identified, were traveling in a public bus in the Indian capital, New Delhi, after watching a film on the evening of Dec. 16 when they were attacked by six men who raped her.

They also beat the couple and inserted an iron rod into her body, resulting in severe organ damage. Both of them were then stripped and thrown off the bus. Indian police have arrested six people in connection with the attack. - AP

Mexicans find elaborate tunnel

MEXICO CITY - Mexican authorities have discovered a sophisticated smuggling tunnel equipped with electricity and ventilation not far from the Nogales port of entry into Arizona, U.S. and Mexican officials said Friday.

The Mexican army said the tunnel was found Thursday after authorities received an anonymous call in the border city of Nogales, Sonora, south of Arizona.

U.S. law-enforcement officials confirmed that the Mexican military had discovered the football-field-long tunnel with elaborate electricity and ventilation systems. U.S. Border Patrol spokesman Victor Brabble said the tunnel did not cross into the United States. - AP