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Peacekeeping mission is extended by U.N.

ABIDJAN, Ivory Coast (AP) -- The U.N. Security Council on Monday extended its peacekeeping mission in Ivory Coast until June 30, hours after the top U.N. envoy here said armed men had been threatening U.N. staff in their homes.

Laurent Gbagbo's refusal to concede defeat in last month's election and his demand that peacekeepers leave have raised fears that U.N. personnel and other foreigners could be targeted in violence. Over the weekend, gunmen opened fire on the U.N. base here.

"Armed men have been coming to the personal houses of United Nations employees, asking them to leave and searching their houses under the pretext of looking for arms," U.N. Special Representative Choi Young-jin said at a news conference.

A spokesman for Gbagbo said he doubted that soldiers would be involved in such tactics.

Gbagbo has ordered the U.N. peacekeeping force to leave Ivory Coast, contending that it is biased in favor of opposition leader Alassane Ouattara, who has been recognized by the United Nations as the victor in last month's runoff vote.


11 Sunnis are hanged as convicted militants

TEHRAN, Iran (AP) -- Iran hanged 11 men who authorities said were members of a Sunni militant group convicted of bombings, the official IRNA news agency reported.

The men were said to be members of Jundallah, which claimed responsibility for an attack last week on Shiite worshippers that killed 39 people in the southeastern city of Chahbahar.

Amnesty International condemned the executions, saying they bear "the hallmark of an act of retaliation" for the attack last week, "not justice."

Iranian officials said the 11 were convicted of being involved in attacks that killed 15 policemen and 12 members of the Revolutionary Guards in past years and providing weapons and refuge for terrorists, as well as taking part in armed kidnappings and smuggling of weapons.

Jundallah has been waging an insurgency for years in remote Sistan-Baluchistan province, a lawless area in southeastern Iran bordering Pakistan. The group says that it is fighting for the rights of the Sunni ethnic Baluchi minority.


West called inadequate in providing weapons

KABUL -- A day after 14 Afghan policemen and soldiers were killed in two insurgent attacks, President Hamid Karzai's spokesman said Monday that the West has not provided Afghan security forces with enough weapons.

Waheed Omer also offered veiled criticism of President Obama's assessment of the war effort, parts of which were made public last week.

He cited friction over civilian casualties, Karzai's wish to disband the Afghan operations of private security companies and potential disagreements over reaching a political settlement with the Taliban.

Training of the Afghan security forces is a key ingredient in Western plans to draw down the NATO force by 2014. But Omer said efforts to build up the security forces hinged on arming them adequately.

-- Los Angeles Times


Chavez regime rejects nominee for U.S. envoy

CARACAS, Venezuela (AP) -- President Hugo Chavez's government formally rejected Washington's nominee for ambassador Monday, and the U.S. State Department said the decision will have consequences on relations with Venezuela.

State Department spokesman P.J. Crowley said Venezuela's government presented an American diplomat in Caracas with a note withdrawing its consent for Larry Palmer to be appointed ambassador. Crowley reiterated that the United States stands behind its nomination of Palmer, who is awaiting Senate confirmation.

He said that if Chavez withdraws approval, "it would have an impact on our ongoing relations." Palmer angered Chavez by suggesting at a Senate confirmation hearing that morale is low in Venezuela's military and that he believes Colombian rebels are finding refuge in Venezuela.

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