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A Sri Lankan special-elections worker carries ballot boxes to a counting center in Batticaloa. A Sri Lankan special-elections worker carries ballot boxes to a counting center in Batticaloa.

Sri Lanka: Violence mars vote

BATTICALOA — Allegations of fraud, voter intimidation and sporadic violence marred elections in Sri Lanka's east Saturday despite the government's claims they would be a celebration of democracy for the region recently liberated from the Tamil Tiger rebels.

The ruling party ran in a coalition with the Tamil Makkal Viduthalai Pulikal, or TMVP, which has been accused of threatening voters and opposition candidates, while the main opposition United National Party joined with the Sri Lanka Muslim Congress. Partial results released early today showed the ruling party coalition ahead with six seats on the 37-seat council, while the opposition coalition won four and a smaller party captured one, the election commission reported.

Afghanistan: Civilians killed

KABUL— Dozens of protesters blocked a road Saturday in eastern Afghanistan, claiming U.S.-led coalition forces killed three civilians, and a local official said police fatally shot one of the protesters and injured three of them.

Villagers from the area carried three bodies to a major highway during the protest. Police allegedly opened fire, killing one and wounding three. The coalition said its troops were attacked Friday while searching compounds in the Shinwar district of Nangarhar province.

Chile: Volcano strands pets

SANTIAGO — Help is on the way for hundreds of household pets left behind in the wake of a volcano eruption in southern Chile, an animal welfare group said Saturday.

The Coalition for Ethical Control of Urban Fauna, which has been critical of the government's attention to stranded animals, said the Emergency Bureau offered to carry food to pets in Chaiten, a town 6 miles from the volcano of the same name. An estimated 450 dogs and 350 cats were left when the town's residents were evacuated after the initial May 2 eruption, the volcano's first in thousands of years.

Mexico: Police officer killed

CIUDAD JUAREZ — The No. 2 police officer in a Mexican border city across from Texas was shot dead Saturday, the latest high-ranking official killed in an onslaught of attacks blamed on gangs resisting a crackdown.

Gunman sprayed Juan Antonio Roman Garcia's car with bullets outside his home in Ciudad Juarez, officials said. The attack came months after his name appeared at the top of a hit list left at a monument for fallen police officers.

Puerto Rico: Food subsidized

SAN JUAN — The Dominican Republic has expanded subsidies on basic food staples to maintain calm after deadly food riots recently struck neighboring Haiti.

Trucks loaded with milk, chicken, eggs and other food staples have been rumbling across the Caribbean nation, where almost half of 9.5 million residents live in poverty. Dominican President Leonel Fernandez implemented the subsidies as he seeks re-election this month.

South Africa: Zimbabwe runoff

PRETORIA — Zimbabwean opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai said Saturday that he will return to his homeland despite threats to his life to take part in a runoff against President Robert Mugabe.

Tsvangirai, addressing reporters in the capital of neighboring South Africa, said his supporters would feel "betrayed" if he did not face Zimbabwe's ruler of 28 years.

Vatican City: Birth-control ban

Pope Benedict XVI on Saturday acknowledged that the Vatican's instructions against using birth control is complicated, even as he praised a 1968 church document that condemned contraception.

In a speech marking the 40th anniversary of the document, Benedict reiterated the church's ban against artificial birth control as well as more recent teaching against using artificial procreation methods. Pope Paul VI's 1968 "Humanae vitae" ("On Human Life") encyclical prohibits Catholics from using artificial birth control.