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MEXICO: 5 held in deadly casino fire

Five suspects were arrested Monday as public outrage continued to mount over Thursday's slaying by fire of 52 people in a casino. One of the detained men confessed that the attack in Monterrey was in response to the casino owners' refusal to pay protection money, said Rodrigo Medina, governor of the state of Nuevo Léon. He said the suspects were working for the Zetas cartel, which has been locked in battle with rival drug traffickers for control of northeast Mexico. The victims, the majority of whom were women, were killed when gunmen torched the Casino Royale. "The attack was aimed at the casino, not the civilian population," Medina said, suggesting the assailants may not have intended to kill so many people but were avenging unpaid extortion money.


SYRIA: Armed revolt discouraged

Syrians should not take up arms in their uprising against President Bashar Assad or invite foreign military action like the intervention that helped topple the government of Libya, a prominent activist group warned Monday. Calls to launch such a resistance were more widely reported than usual at protests in Syria on Friday, at the end of a week that saw Tripoli fall to rebels fighting Moammar Gadhafi with the help of NATO. "Militarization would . . . erode the moral superiority that has characterized the revolution since its beginning," said the Local Coordination Committees, an activist group with a wide network of sources on the ground across Syria.


AFGHANISTAN: Talks with Taliban halted

Direct U.S. talks with the Taliban had evolved to a substantive negotiation before Afghan officials, nervous that the secret and independent talks would undercut President Hamid Karzai, scuttled them, Afghan and U.S. officials told The Associated Press. Featured prominently in the talks was the eventual release of U.S. Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl of Hailey, Idaho, who was captured more than two years ago in eastern Afghanistan, according to negotiators.

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