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In brief: Kidnappers kill two French captives in Africa after army's rescue bid fails

France said two of its nationals were found dead, executed by their kidnappers, after French special forces joined a failed attempt to rescue them yesterday in the African state of Niger.

It was the second abortive French hostage rescue since July in the arid Sahel region.

Fifteen headless victims found

Police in Mexico yesterday found the headless bodies of 15 men in the resort of Acapulco. Acapulco has seen bloody turf battles between drug gangs in recent years. The bodies are the largest single group of decapitation victims since the president launched an offensive against cartels in 2006.

Woman accused of spying in Iran

Iranian border police have arrested a foreign woman on suspicion of spying. Fars news agency initially quoted Ahmad Geravand, deputy commander of state border police, as telling a news conference his guards had seized a "female American spy". Fars said last Thursday that a 55-year-old US woman identified as Hall Talayan had been arrested trying to cross the border without a visa, and espionage equipment was found in her teeth.

Ban on handshakes between the sexes

Somalis say Islamist insurgents have banned unrelated men and women from shaking hands, speaking or walking together. Residents of the southern Somali town of Jowhar said that the al-Shabab insurgents threatened to whip, imprison or execute anyone found breaking the edicts.

Dioxin found in German chickens

The German Agriculture Ministry said yesterday that an overly high concentration of cancer-causing dioxin had been detected in samples of meat after it emerged that farm animals were given contaminated feed. A spokesman said that three chickens -- out of 15 samples -- showed a dioxin concentration twice as high as legally allowed.

Spanish TV outlaws bullfighting

Spain's leading broadcaster said yesterday that it would no longer show the country's centuries-old tradition of bullfighting in order to protect children from violence.

Denmark's princess a mother to twins

Denmark's Crown Princess Mary has given birth to twins -- a boy and a girl -- the royal court announced yesterday. Mary became the proud mother of "two fine children" at the Rigshospitalet hospital in Copenhagen.

Sunday Independent