Gas blast kills 20 in Mexico

MEXICO CITY - At least 20 people - including 10 children - were killed Tuesday morning when a massive explosion from a gas truck accident erupted in the Mexico City suburb of Ecatepec, a local official said.

Efren Rojas Avila, the interior secretary for the state of Mexico, said in a radio interview that the 10 children had been in their homes when the driver of a truck hauling double gas tanks apparently lost control of his vehicle about 5:30 a.m. on a freeway that connects Mexico City with the city of Pachuca. One of the gas tanks, Rojas said, broke away from the truck and exploded.

The blast and subsequent fires - which in turn caused a number of home gas tanks to explode - turned the neighborhood into a horrific, smoldering ruin. Rojas said that in addition to the dead, 33 people were injured, and a total of 45 homes and 16 vehicles were damaged.

According to news reports, the driver, who was among the injured, was being treated at a local hospital, where he was also being detained on suspicion of speeding.

- Los Angeles Times

Ireland pardons war deserters

DUBLIN, Ireland - The Irish government said Tuesday that it is pardoning nearly 5,000 men who deserted its armed forces to fight for Britain during World War II, an episode of history that brought shame and embarrassment to neutral Ireland.

Justice Minister Alan Shatter said a bill pardoning the men - mostly posthumously - and apologizing to their families would be introduced and passed into law Tuesday. The move comes a year after he issued an official state apology to the men, who because of a government blacklist suffered job discrimination and loss of pension rights at war's end, condemning their families to poverty.

Shatter said the Second World War Amnesty and Immunity Bill was long overdue because barely 100 of the war veterans are still alive. "Had Germany successfully invaded Great Britain, Ireland was next on the list. These individuals made a substantial contribution to protect the sovereignty of this country," Shatter said.

- AP

Attackers kill 42 in Nigeria

MAIDUGURI, Nigeria - Coordinated attacks by Islamic extremists armed with heavy machine guns killed at least 42 people in northeast Nigeria, authorities said Tuesday, the latest in a string of increasingly bloody attacks threatening peace in Africa's most populous nation.

The attack struck multiple locations in the hard-hit town of Bama in Nigeria's Borno state, where shootings and bombings have continued unstopped since an insurgency began there in 2010.

Fighters raided a federal prison during their assault as well, freeing 105 inmates in another mass prison break to hit the country, officials said.

- AP