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In brief: Yemeni president accepts medical help from Saudi king after attack

Yemen's injured president has accepted an offer from the Saudi king to travel there for medical treatment for wounds sustained in an opposition rocket attack, but by last night he had not yet left Sanaa, the Yemeni capital.

Fighters from Yemen's most influential tribal group said a truce with government forces has been mediated by Saudi Arabia's King Abdullah, amid confusion over the whereabouts of the president after an attack on Friday.

Debt-ridden Portuguese go to polls

Portuguese voters go to the polls today amid a steep decline in living standards as the deeply indebted country enacts painful austerity measures in return for a €78bn international bailout.

The ballot is forecast to unseat the government and bring the main opposition party to power. Though all the main parties have given their blessing to further pay cuts and tax hikes, any signs that Portugal is straying from debt-reduction targets would place more strain on EU efforts to draw a line under the debt crisis.

Chinese in new Tiananmen crackdown

Chinese security forces rounded up more government critics before yesterday's anniversary of the crushing of the 1989 pro-democracy movement centred on Beijing's Tiananmen Square, adding to an already harsh crackdown on dissent, activists said. The foreign ministry, meanwhile, lashed out at the US government over calls for a full accounting of the military assault on civilians 22 years ago, saying the issue was closed.

Seven killed in Burkina Faso mutiny

A military official says at least seven people, including a 14-year-old girl, have been killed during a mutiny by soldiers in Burkina Faso's second-largest city.

General Honore Nabere Traore said yesterday that six soldiers died in an exchange of gunfire on Friday with troops sent to quell four days of shooting and looting by soldiers in Bobo-Dioulasso. Gen Traore said the girl was accidentally hit by a bullet on Friday.

Egyptian court convicts ex-minister

An Egyptian court convicted former finance minister Youssef Boutros-Ghali in absentia yesterday and sentenced him to 30 years in prison for profiteering and abusing state and private assets, a court source said.

Mr Boutros-Ghali, widely viewed in Egypt as a public face of a government that enriched the wealthy at the expense of the poor, quit his post in late January and then fled abroad, only days after the eruption of the mass uprising that later ousted ex-president Hosni Mubarak.

Greenpeace activists scale oil rig

Eighteen Greenpeace activists have climbed a 53,000-ton oil rig in the Arctic waters off Greenland to protest at deepwater drilling by a Scottish oil company, the environmental group said yesterday.

The activists claim that Cairn Energy, which runs the Leiv Eiriksson rig, is not taking enough precautions to avoid accidents like the Gulf of Mexico blowout in 2010.

Cairn insists it has developed "an extensive emergency response and oil spill response plan".

Colombia kills FARC's security chief

Colombia's army says it has killed the security chief for the head of the country's main rebel group, FARC.

Army spokesman Col Fernando Avila says that Alirio Rojas Bocanegra was killed in an area about 140 miles southwest of Bogota, the nation's capital.

Authorities estimate the rebel group's strength at about 8,000 -- half what it was a decade ago.

Palestinians off to Paris peace talks

An aide to the Palestinian president says the Palestinians have accepted a French invitation to Paris as part of an effort to relaunch Mideast peace talks.

French Foreign Minister Alain Juppe said this week he's inviting Israeli and Palestinian leaders to Paris this month.

Boy (9) youngest ever solo balloonist

Nine-year-old Bobby Bradley floated into history yesterday, taking off solo in a hot-air balloon and landing perfectly about a half-hour later to become the youngest trained pilot to accomplish such a feat.

As the morning sun rose in the remote New Mexico town of Tome, Bobby took off in the company of three other balloons, whose pilots included a designated balloon examiner for the Federal Aviation Administration. His balloon was airborne for 26 minutes.

Sunday Independent