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>Land mines add risk at John the Baptist site

QASR EL-YAHUD, West Bank (AP) -- Just months before the official opening of one of Christianity's holiest sites to visitors, the area where John the Baptist is said to have baptized Jesus remains surrounded by thousands of land mines.

Israel says the sites visited by pilgrims and tourists in an area known as Qasr el-Yahud will be safe, but advocacy groups warn that crowds could be in danger.

Tuesday, about 15,000 Christian pilgrims marched between two fenced-in mine fields to reach an Epiphany ceremony led by the Greek Orthodox patriarch on the Jordan River.

Dhyan Or, the Israeli director of the global anti-mining advocacy group "Roots of Peace," said a half million mines remain in the Jordan Valley -- an area prone to floods. He warned that land mines could drift from the fenced areas, and that overzealous worshippers could stray from the marked paths.

The Israeli military said the baptism site and adjacent churches are located in a "completely mine-free zone," and insists "no danger is posed to tourists or worshippers."


>Denying room for gays results in fine

LONDON (AP) -- A Christian couple were fined Tuesday for refusing to allow a gay couple the use of a double room in their hotel in southern England.

A media uproar arose after Martyn Hall and his partner, Steven Preddy, were turned away from Chymorvah Private Hotel in Marazion, in southwestern England, in 2008. Husband and wife Peter and Hazelmary Bull -- both devout Christians -- had refused on religious grounds to let the two men share a room.

The Bulls had argued that their intent was not to discriminate against homosexuals, saying they did not allow unmarried heterosexuals to share a double room either. They also argued that, because they lived on the ground floor of their hotel, they had a right to have their home life respected. Bristol County Court Judge Andrew Rutherford, who said he found the case "very difficult," said the Bulls' right to have their private and family life respected was "inevitably circumscribed by their decision to use their home in part as a hotel."


>Opposition figures quit new unity government

TUNIS, Tunisia (AP) -- At least four opposition ministers quit Tunisia's day-old unity government Tuesday, aligning themselves with demonstrators who insist democratic change is impossible while so many supporters of the freshly ousted president are hoarding posts of power.

Police in riot gear forcefully put down a demonstration of the sort that toppled the North African country's longtime autocratic leader last week, pummeling a demonstrator with batons and boot kicks -- and highlighting a question on many minds: Is the new regime really much different?

After the initial exhilaration of last week, when a populist uprising ousted President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali after 23 years in power and sent him fleeing to Saudi Arabia -- sounding a warning bell for other political strongmen in the region -- many are fretting about what it ultimately meant.


>Ex-Bosnian Serb held in war crimes case

JERUSALEM (AP) -- Israeli police have arrested a former Bosnian Serb soldier implicated by Bosnian authorities in the killing of 8,000 Muslim men in 1995.

Aleksander Cvetkovic, 42, was arrested Tuesday morning after an extradition request from the Bosnian government, the Israeli Justice Ministry said. A hearing today in Jerusalem will set a timetable for determining whether he can be extradited.

The Bosnian Prosecutor's Office said Cvetkovic "was suspected of genocide" because of direct participation in the 1995 execution of Bosnian Muslim men and boys at the Branjevo farm, near Srebrenica. Four other former members of Cvetkovic's battalion are being tried by Bosnia's war crimes court on genocide charges related to the incident.

The Justice Ministry said Cvetkovic moved to Israel with his family in 2006. He received citizenship under Israeli law because his wife is Jewish.

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