France: Avalanche kills 8

CHAMONIX — An avalanche swept down a major summit in the Mont Blanc range before dawn Sunday, leaving eight climbers missing and presumed dead along a trail often used to reach western Europe's highest peak.

"There's no chance of finding anyone alive," French Interior Minister Michele Alliot-Marie said while visiting the area.

The avalanche was set off at around 3 a.m. by the fall of a massive block of ice on the Mont Blanc du Tacul, one of the peaks in the Mont Blanc range, at an altitude of some 11,800 feet, the Haute-Savoie regional government office said in a statement.

Germany: Is Nazi dead?

BERLIN — A son of notorious Nazi doctor Aribert Heim was quoted as saying Sunday that he wants his father declared legally dead so he can take control of his money and donate some of it to help document the suffering that occurred at a former concentration camp.

Ruediger Heim told the Bild am Sonntag newspaper that his father — dubbed "Dr. Death" and atop the Simon Wiesenthal Center's list of most-wanted suspected Nazi war criminals — should officially be declared missing and then dead.

He reiterated he has not had any contact with his father since he fled Germany in 1962, save two short notes in his family's mailbox.

Heim also said that he has no idea if his father, who would be 94, is alive or dead.

India: Protesters shot

SRINAGAR — Paramilitary soldiers opened fire on a group of Muslim protesters in Indian Kashmir after they allegedly defied curfew late Sunday and tried to storm into a police camp, an official said. One person was killed and another seriously injured.

The protesters had surrounded a Central Reserve Police Force camp in Srinagar, the main city in India's Jammu-Kashmir state, forcing troops to open fire, Prabhakar Tripathi the CRPF spokesman said. He gave no other details or estimates of the size of the crowd.

A witness, however, said the soldiers had fired on a man and his son without provocation.

Iran: President supported

TEHRAN — Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, Iran's supreme religious leader, responded to mounting domestic criticism of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad with a strong statement of support, praising his internal policies and his dogged defense of the country's nuclear program, Iranian news media reported Sunday.

Senior clerics and politicians have intensified their criticism of Ahmadinejad, especially over Iran's worsening economy. Inflation recently hit 26 percent.

Niger: Mines explode

NIAMEY — Dozens of land mines accidentally exploded Sunday in Niger during a ceremony in which a group of former rebels were handing over arms, killing one person and wounding about 40 including the regional governor, the government said.

Government spokesman Mohamed Ben Omar said four soldiers were seriously injured.

The accident occurred in Goure, east of the capital, Niamey. Speaking over state radio and television, Omar said a government official who had worked as an intermediary with the rebels stepped on one mine, which set off dozens of others, spreading shrapnel through an assembled crowd.

Pakistan: Coalition at risk

ISLAMABAD — Pakistan's ruling coalition was at risk of collapsing today if its junior partner carries out a threat to quit unless judges ousted by ex-President Pervez Musharraf are restored immediately.

Former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, who heads the second-largest party in the coalition, set a deadline for reinstating the judges, a response to the surprise announcement that federal and provincial lawmakers will select the new president on Sept. 6.

Somalia: Journalists held

MOGADISHU — Media organizations confirmed on Sunday that two foreign journalists have been kidnapped near Somalia's capital, and the family of one of the hostages expressed concern about his welfare.

The Canadian and Australian journalists were kidnapped Saturday along with their Somali driver and two Somali guards while traveling to Elasha, 11 miles southwest of the capital, Mogadishu, Somali witnesses have said.

Somalia's government has confirmed the kidnapping.

In a statement Sunday, Paris-based Reporters Without Borders identified the journalists as Canadian Amanda Lindhout and Australian Nigel Brennan.

Spain: Fire at N-plant

MADRID — A fire broke out Sunday at a nuclear power station in Spain's northeastern province of Tarragona, forcing the plant to close temporarily but posing no threat of a nuclear leak or environmental danger, nuclear regulators said.

The fire started at 8:49 a.m. (0649 GMT) Sunday at one of the Vandellos II power station's electricity generating units and triggered an emergency shutdown, the Nuclear Safety Council said in a statement. The fire was extinguished two hours later.

Vandellos II, on the Mediterranean coast 140 kilometers (87 miles) southeast of Barcelona, is one of seven Spanish nuclear plants. It is run by Spain-based energy companies Endesa and Iberdrola, S.A.

The fire was the second incident at a Spanish nuclearplant in recent months.