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Taliban rulers order all statues destroyed

KABUL, Afghanistan ( AP) -- Afghanistan's hard-line Taliban rulers ordered the destruction Monday of all statues, including a giant fifth-century Buddha that is said to be the world's tallest of its kind.

The order came from the Taliban's supreme leader, Mullah Mohammed Omar, who issued an edict declaring statues, including the ancient Buddhas, insulting to Islam.

"Because God is one God and these statues are there to be worshiped, and that is wrong. They should be destroyed so that they are not worshiped now or in the future," Omar said in his edict, published by the Taliban-run Bakhtar News Agency.

Afghanistan's ancient Buddhas are located in Bamiyan, about 90 miles west of the Afghan capital of Kabul. One Buddha, measuring 175 feet, is said to be the world's tallest statue in which Buddha is standing up rather than sitting.

It's not clear what prompted the edict from the Taliban. The religious army espouses a strict brand of Islamic law and reviles all images as contrary to Islam.

Report says Kursk was sunk by exploding torpedo

MOSCOW (AP) -- A note left by a sailor said the nuclear submarine Kursk was sunk by the explosion of a practice torpedo, a Russian newspaper reported Monday. Navy officials refused to comment on the claim.

Russian officials found two notes from different crew members during the operation to retrieve some of the bodies of the Kursk's 118 crewmen last year but said at the time that neither shed any light on the cause of the disaster.

The first note, written by Lt. Dmitry Kolesnikov, told how 23 sailors crowded into the crew's rear compartment and were unable to escape after the Kursk sank in the Barents Sea on Aug. 12. Officials have never identified the author of the second note or spelled out its contents.

The respected daily Izvestia on Monday quoted unidentified naval officers as saying the second note was written by Lt. Rashid Aryapov, who said the explosion was caused by the misfiring of a practice torpedo.

The government hasn't yet issued a verdict on the cause, saying the disaster could have been touched off by an internal malfunction, a collision with a foreign submarine or a World War II mine.

China told to end practice of punishment through labor

BEIJING (AP) -- The top U.N. human rights official urged China on Monday to abolish its widely criticized practice of sending people without trial to labor camps for political dissent and minor crimes.

Mary Robinson, the U.N. high commissioner for human rights, said China's "reform through labor" system was a violation of international standards.

"A serious review leading to the abolition of the practice of re-education through labor is justified," Robinson said.

Sentencing to labor camps for up to three years is widely used in China to punish minor crimes as well as religious and political dissent.

The number of prisoners in China's nearly 300 labor camps has more than doubled over the last decade to 260,000, the New York-based group Human Rights in China said, citing statements by Chinese officials.

Tot survives bitter cold, 60-degree body temperature

EDMONTON, Alberta (AP) -- A 13-month-old child whose body temperature plunged to about 60 degrees after wandering outside on a bitter winter night appears to have survived without suffering brain damage, her doctor said.

The girl, clad only in a diaper, wandered from the home where she had been sleeping Friday night with her mother and 2-year-old sister and was found outside at 3 a.m. Saturday. No one knows how long the girl was exposed to the subzero weather.

The child's toes were frozen together, and paramedics who responded to her mother's frantic call had trouble getting a breathing tube into the child's throat because her mouth was frozen shut. Her heart stopped beating for some time, doctors said, and her body temperature was 60.8 degrees when she was found.

"I think to be fair I'm using the miracle word now," said Dr. Allan De Caen, a pediatric intensive care specialist at Stollery Children's Hospital in Edmonton.

Police said the child's mother, 26, whose name was not released, told them she awoke at about 3 a.m. and realized the girl was not in bed. She found the child lying face-down in the snow.

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