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Airstrikes, clashes intensify in army push

SANAA, Yemen (AP) -- Airstrikes and clashes intensified in southern Yemen on Wednesday as army troops followed major victories with more pressure on al-Qaida militants holding small towns, according to tribal and military officials.

At least 17 al-Qaida militants were killed in the latest phase of Yemen's offensive, they said.

The attacks came a day after Yemeni forces regained control of two major al-Qaida strongholds, Jaar and Zinjibar, which were in the hands of the militants for more than a year.

A monthlong Yemeni government push in the south, aided by U.S. military advisers and bankrolled by Saudi Arabia, succeeded in driving the militants from two towns.

The United States considers al-Qaida's Yemen branch to be the terrorist network's most dangerous offshoot.

Yemen's al-Qaida offshoot, known as the al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula, has been blamed for directing a string of unsuccessful bomb plots on U.S. soil from its hideouts.


Suu Kyi, after decades, renews ties to Europe

GENEVA (AP) -- Myanmar's Nobel peace laureate, Aung San Suu Kyi, arrived here Wednesday night on her first visit to Europe in 24 years.

The democracy activist, who spent years under house arrest for opposing the military junta in her native country, smiled and waved as she stepped out of the plane.

Dressed in blue and wearing three white roses in her hair, Suu Kyi greeted local officials who received her on the tarmac amid tight security.

She was then taken by limousine to a hotel where she will spend the night before visiting the European headquarters of the United Nations today to deliver a speech at the International Labor Organization's annual assembly.

The trip is seen as a sign of gratitude to those governments and organizations that supported Suu Kyi's peaceful struggle against Myanmar's generals over more than two decades.

From here, Suu Kyi flies to Oslo, Norway, where Saturday she will make a belated acceptance speech for the Nobel Peace Prize awarded to her 21 years earlier while she was detained by the military after leading a pro-democracy party to victory in Myanmar's 1990 elections.


Stem cell-grown vein transplanted in girl

LONDON (AP) -- For the first time, doctors have successfully transplanted a vein grown with a patient's own stem cells.

The patient was a 10-year-old girl in Sweden who was suffering from a severe vein blockage to her liver. Last March, the girl's doctors decided to make her a new blood vessel to bypass the blocked vein instead of using one of her own or considering a liver transplant.

They took a 3 1/2 -inch section of vein from a deceased donor, which was stripped of all its cells, leaving just a hollow tube. Using stem cells from the girl's bone marrow, scientists grew millions of cells to cover the vein. The new blood vessel was then transplanted into the patient. Because the procedure used her own cells, the girl did not have to take anti-rejection drugs. "This is the future for tissue engineering, where we can make tailor-made organs for patients," said Suchitra Sumitran-Holgersson of the University of Gothenburg, one of the study's authors.

A year after the transplant, the vein had to be replaced with another lab-grown one because blood flow had decreased.