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WORLD BRIEFS


BAHRAIN: Crackdown routs protesters

Police and soldiers, firing live ammunition and backed by U.S.-built Apache assault helicopters, drove protesters out of Pearl Square in Manama on Wednesday, then blocked wounded people from reaching hospitals in a brazen crackdown on a month of pro-democracy protests. At least three people were killed and scores injured. Two police officers also were reported killed. The government declared a 4 p.m. to 4 a.m. curfew. The helicopters fired tear gas at the protesters -- men, women and children -- many of whom were sleeping in their tents. Then they fired live ammunition into the crowd, witnesses said.


YEMEN: 300 protesters injured

Government supporters attacked protesters in the western port city of Hodeida on Wednesday, injuring 300 people, witnesses said. Health officials said security forces fired tear gas and live ammunition, mostly at the protesters. Demonstrations have been held daily across Yemen for a month, demanding the ouster of longtime President Ali Abdullah Saleh.


WEST BANK: Abbas offers hand to Hamas

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas offered Wednesday to go to the Gaza Strip for unity talks with his Hamas rivals, a day after Israel intercepted an arms shipment it said was sent by Iran to the Islamic militant group. Abbas' gesture suggests he has given up on reaching peace with Israel and will instead seek internal reconciliation at the risk of jeopardizing relations with the West. The United States, Israel and the EU consider Hamas a terror group.


KAZAKHSTAN: Three return from space

NASA astronaut Scott Kelly and two Russian cosmonauts landed Wednesday in the snowy expanses of central Kazakhstan after five months on the International Space Station. The Soyuz capsule carrying Kelly, Alexander Kaleri and Oleg Skripochka landed about 30 miles from the northern Kazakh city of Arkalyk. Kelly returns to earth just as twin brother Mark, husband of wounded congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, prepares to take part in the U.S. space shuttle Endeavour's final mission in April.

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