YEMEN: Sharp rise in battle's toll

The number of government troops killed by al-Qaida militants in an attack Sunday in the south has risen to 185, officials said. Soldiers' bodies were founded mutilated, some headless. Military officials say more bodies were found in the desert outside Zinjibar, capital of Abyan province. The attack left 32 militants dead. The toll is believed the highest on record from battles fought by the army against al-Qaida militants, who have been emboldened by the political turmoil roiling the nation for more than a year and have seized control of other areas in the south.

SEYCHELLES: Taking over piracy suspects

Seychelles said Tuesday it has agreed to accept 15 Somali pirate suspects from U.S. military custody for prosecution. The announcement followed an agreement between Seychelles President James Michel and U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton that the nations would continue to collaborate in the fight against piracy. "We appreciate the Seychelles' regional leadership on counter-piracy," State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said in Washington.The 15 pirates in this case were detained by the U.S. Navy on Jan. 5 in an operation that also rescued 13 captive Iranian fishermen. The Seychelles will soon host a regional intelligence coordination center to combat piracy. The U.S. military flies surveillance drones from the island nation.

HONDURAS: Drug war on Biden's agenda

Central American leaders met Tuesday in Tegucigalpa with U.S. Vice President Joe Biden, saying they would focus on drug trafficking and the violent crime that plagues their region. Guatemalan President Otto Perez has said he favors legalizing drugs as a way to decrease drug cartel violence. On Monday, in Mexico, Biden said the U.S. government doesn't think that is the answer. Costa Rican President Laura Chinchilla said the region is suffering from the ills tied to drug trafficking and consumption, and "we demand the United States assume responsibility."

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