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SRI LANKAN, TAMIL LEADER MEET AS NORWAY MEDIATES

Sri Lanka's prime minister and a top Tamil Tigers rebel leader met in Norway's capital Sunday, the highest-level meeting yet in a Norwegian-led drive to end one of Asia's longest civil wars.

Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe and rebel chief negotiator Anton Balasingham, a key leader of the Tamil Tigers, arrived before today's conference on arranging political and financial support for the island nation off the southern tip of India.

Balasingham called the meeting "a positive and constructive exchange of ideas."

Wickremesinghe appeared open for future talks.

The rebels have been fighting for an independent homeland for Sri Lanka's Tamil minority since 1983. The civil war has claimed 64,500 lives.

Norway's peace effort resulted in a cease-fire and two rounds of promising talks, with a third session planned for next month.

A Sri Lankan government source, speaking on the condition of anonymity, also said the two sides planned a joint declaration to present to donor nations before today's meeting.

Algerians linked to al-Qaida are blamed in fatal clashes

ALGIERS, Algeria (AP) -- An Algerian militant group suspected of links to Osama bin Laden's al-Qaida terrorist network killed nine soldiers and four police officers in violent clashes east of Algiers, the official news agency APS reported Sunday.

The two days of gunfights, which reportedly left two militants dead, were the latest bloodshed in a 10-year Islamic insurgency that has taken more than 120,000 lives in Algeria.

Militants of the extremist Salafist Group for Call and Combat ambushed troops Saturday about 110 miles east of Algiers, the capital, killing nine soldiers and wounding 12, APS report said.

That fight broke out as government forces carried out a roundup after an ambush a day earlier, the Algerian daily Liberte reported.

Four police officers were killed between Thursday night and Friday morning in Bourmedes, 30 miles east of Algiers, APS reported.

The Kabyle region, home to Algeria's ethnic Berber minority, is also a hotbed of the Salafist organization, a 4-year-old militant group headed by Hassan Hattab.

Islamic militants attack Hindu temples; 14 killed

JAMMU, India (AP) -- Security forces killed three Islamic militants today after the militants hurled grenades and fired weapons at two Hindu temples, killing 10 civilians and one policeman.

At least 50 others, mostly Hindu devotees visiting this city of temples, were injured, police said.

Police and paramilitary troops took control of the Raghunath Temple and the nearby Panchvaktar Temple in Jammu, the state's winter capital, in the operation that began Sunday night after the militants attacked the shrines.

The Indian government accused the Pakistan-based militant group Lashkar-e-Tayyaba of carrying out the attacks.

The attacks were the third in India's portion of divided Kashmir since Friday. Over the past three days, 38 people have been killed.

Police said hundreds of Hindus had hidden in small rooms or behind pillars as militants entered the two temples. Security forces fired rockets into the two temples to root out the militants.

Sunday's attack was the second on the Raghunath Temple. In March, suspected Islamic militants raided the temple, killing eight people. The two attackers were later shot.

30 die as bus blows tire, plunges off bridge in India

NEW DELHI, India (AP) -- A passenger bus plunged from a bridge in central India on Sunday, killing at least 30 people and injuring 30 others, officials said.

The bus went off the bridge over the Son River in the Madhya Pradesh state, slamming into the dry riverbed after a tire blew out, said Keshav Kumar, an aide to the local administrator.

Twenty-seven bodies were recovered from the twisted wreckage, and three more were buried underneath, Kumar said by telephone from the nearest town, Sidhi.

Most of the dead and injured were farm laborers and owners of small businesses traveling in the private bus to a nearby town for work.

The crash occurred in the Kaimur Hills, 400 miles southeast of New Delhi, the capital.

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