SHANGHAI - Two Canadian navy ships sailed into Shanghai on Wednesday to breathe fresh air into bilateral ties in the nation's first naval visit to China since 1988.

BEIJING - The number of "xiagang," or laid-off, workers in China hit 10.1 million at the end of March, the Hainan Daily said in an edition seen Wednesday.


HARARE - A defense lawyer in the trial of Zimbabwe's former President Canaan Banana on Wednesday attacked the main state witness, saying his inability to recall key events showed he was lying.


MEXICO CITY - A Mexican kidnapper known for cutting the ears off his victims called a newspaper while on the run and vowed to die rather than surrender to police.


TEHRAN - An outlawed Iranian opposition group Wednesday claimed responsibility for a bombing and two mortar attacks on government facilities that killed at least three people.


BANGKOK - Thailand will close or merge dozens of government offices in the United States and 15 other foreign countries to save money amid the continuing economic crisis.

New Zealand

AUCKLAND - Cannabis growing in New Zealand's Northland province may exceed dairying as a cash crop, according to a study released Wednesday by the University of Auckland.


KABUL - At least six civilians were killed and another five wounded when a large missile fired by anti-Taliban forces hit a residential area of Kabul on Wednesday, residents said.


PHNOM PENH - Cambodian government forces have captured a Khmer Rouge guerrilla stronghold on high ground at the Thai border, a military official said Wednesday.

South Africa

GEORGE - Apartheid's most notorious assassin told the trial of former South African president P.W. Botha on Wednesday that he bombed civilian targets on orders from on high.


TUNCELI - Turkish security officials said Kurdish rebels had killed eight civilians in an attack on a minibus in the eastern province of Tunceli on Wednesday.


JERUSALEM - Palestinian leaders must encourage mass street protests in Jerusalem to try and block Jewish settlement in neighborhoods claimed by the Palestinians, said the top PLO official in the disputed city.

GAZA - Israeli troops shot and wounded a Palestinian youth on Wednesday near a Jewish settlement in the Gaza Strip, a Palestinian security official said.


BEIRUT - Sheik Saeed Shaaban, the firebrand Sunni Muslim cleric who led an armed militia during the civil war and advocated Islamic rule in Lebanon, has died. He was 69.


ASMARA - Eritrea accused Ethiopian troops Wednesday of attacking Eritrean positions in the southern Ambesete Geleba area with tanks and heavy artillery.


GAUHATI - Torrential rains triggered a landslide that flattened a cluster of tin-roofed mud huts early Wednesday, killing at least 21 tea plantation workers in India's remote northeast.