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The World Today

Refugee camp blaze kills 21

Associated Press / March 20, 2011

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INDIA
GAUHATI — A fire tore through a refugee camp in northeastern India yesterday, killing 21 people and injuring about 100. A police superintendent said winds whipped the fire into a massive blaze that swept across the Nifingpara camp in Tripura state for three hours before firefighters brought it under control. Most of the thatched huts were destroyed in the remote camp, about 100 miles northeast of Tripura’s capital, Agartala. The camp was home to some 5,000 families from the minority Bru ethnic group, which in 1997 fled alleged persecution in neighboring Mizoram state.

PERU
Another Cabinet chief resigns
LIMA — President Alan Garcia announced yesterday that his Cabinet chief has resigned just three weeks before nationwide elections and four months before the end of Garcia’s term. José Antonio Chang presented his resignation Friday for personal reasons and will be replaced immediately, Garcia said. “This afternoon I will swear in as the new Cabinet chief the current minister of justice, Rosario Fernández,’’ the president said. Chang, 52, was Peru’s fourth Cabinet chief since September and also minister of education. He plans to return to academic life.

SENEGAL
Attempted coup foiled; 15 arrested
DAKAR — The government said it had arrested 15 people and foiled an attempted coup just hours before thousands of antigovernment protesters took to the streets yesterday, but opposition leaders said the accusations were aimed at undercutting the demonstrations. Senegal’s president of more than a decade said the protests showed the maturity of the West African country’s democracy. President Abdoulaye Wade also said he would be willing to meet with the opposition or even hold a televised debate. The suspects were accused of targeting various sites around Dakar. Luc Sarr, special adviser of the Alliance for the Republic, a member of the lead opposition coalition, said the arrests were unacceptable. “The government wanted to create pressure and a threat so that Senegalese wouldn’t come out and protest today,’’ Sarr said.

GERMANY
Popular polar bear dies suddenly in zoo
BERLIN — Berlin’s beloved polar bear Knut, an international star who as a cuddly, fluffy cub graced magazine covers, movies, and merchandise, has died. His death at the young age of 4 took zookeepers and biologists by surprise. The celebrity bear died suddenly in his compound at the Berlin Zoo yesterday. He waded into the water in his enclosure before having a short spasm and then dying in front of hundreds of zoo visitors. A postmortem will be conducted to try to pinpoint the cause of death. Polar bears in the wild live an average of 15 to 20 years. Bears in captivity can live even longer.

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