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COLOMBIAN PARAMILITARY RAIDS VILLAGE, KILLING AT LEAST 11

Members of a right-wing paramilitary group raided a Colombian village early Sunday and killed at least 11 people, authorities said.

National Police spokeswoman Jenny Alvarado said up to 15 people may have been executed in the early-morning massacre near the township of Falan, some 74 miles west of the capital, Bogota.

Fighters from the United Self-Defense Forces of Colombia, or AUC, killed the villagers after accusing them of working with leftist guerrillas, said Tolima Police Col. Ciro Chitiva.

The AUC is waging a brutal massacre and assassination campaign against the guerrillas and those suspected of sympathizing with them.

Sunday's massacre is one of the largest slayings committed by the AUC since the emergence of its new leader, Salvatore Mancuso. Even though the AUC is blamed for most of the human rights abuses committed in Colombia, Mancuso said in a recent interview that his fighters don't kill innocent people.

At least 3,000 civilians die every year in this South American country's 37-year-old conflict.

98-foot statue of Buddha
consecrated in Malaysia

KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia (AP) -- The biggest statue of a sitting Buddha in Southeast Asia was consecrated in an elaborate ceremony Sunday that capped seven days of prayer at a temple in Malaysia.

The ceremony making the massive statue sacred was attended by about 10,000 Buddhists, including 500 monks from across Southeast Asia and many tourists from Malaysia and abroad.

The statue at the Manchimmaram Temple near Kota Baharu, 390 miles northeast of Kuala Lumpur, is 98 feet high and 155 feet around. It cost about $1 million to build.

Before the start of the ceremony, people dressed up as lions and others hoisting yards of cloth on sticks to represent dragons pranced to the beat of 100 huge drums.

Then the grand patriarch and royal monk of Thailand, Somdet Prhat Sangkharat, placed the Sarira -- a 3-foot-high bronze heart representing the heart of Buddha -- into the chest of the statue.

For the past week, devotees have been visiting the temple to pray and place gold and silver needles at the foot of the statue in the hope that they will be blessed with smart children.

More than half of Malaysia's 23 million people are ethnic Malay Muslims, but there are large Buddhist, Hindu and Christian minorities.

Tropical storm kills 23
in Taiwan floods, mudslides

TAIPEI, Taiwan (AP) -- Tropical storm Nari tore through northern Taiwan today, killing 23 people in mudslides and flash floods that swallowed up homes and main streets in the capital.

On some Taipei streets, only the tops of cars could be seen in what looked like streams of chocolate milk.

Rivers of rainfall came roaring down mountains, swamping many homes in the suburbs. Several people drowned in their sleep.

In eastern Taipei, truck driver Chen Wen-lin was trying to deliver food to his two brothers who were trapped on the second floor of the family's delivery company.

"Water rose quickly to their chest and they could not get away," Chen said.

Some 8,000 people were forced to evacuate and more than 820,000 homes were left in the dark, emergency officials said.

By late morning, the torrential rain eased in Taipei, where 32 inches of rainfall was recorded since Sunday. But the storm headed to central Taiwan toward the island's third-largest city, Taichung.

Sri Lankan soldiers repel
attack by Tamil guerrillas

COLOMBO, Sri Lanka (AP) -- Tamil guerrillas attacked a ship carrying 1,200 Sri Lankan soldiers Sunday, killing at least 11 and wounding 47 before they were driven back, the Defense Ministry said.

Another 12 soldiers were missing after the fighting, which the military said killed 15 rebels.

"It was a big attack, but our air force, navy and the soldiers on board managed to beat back the terrorists," military spokesman Sanath Karunaratne said.

Rebels aboard about 20 boats laden with explosives approached the ship off this island nation's coast near Trincomalee, 155 miles northeast of Colombo, a military official said.

Soldiers on board destroyed two of the boats, and the rest later retreated after air force jets and helicopter gunships arrived on the scene. The fighting lasted 3 1/2 hours.

The soldiers were on their way from Trincomalee to the port of Point Pedro on the Jaffna Peninsula, where most of the fighting in the 18-year war between Tamil rebels and the government has taken place.

The rebels want to carve out a homeland centered in Jaffna for the Tamil minority, which they say is repressed by the majority Sinhalese. More than 64,000 people have been killed in the fighting.

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