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AROUND THE WORLD

12 with al-Qaida ties are killed in shelling

SANA, Yemen (AP) -- Government forces in southern Yemen killed 12 al-Qaida-linked militants and wounded three others in shelling Sunday, officials said.

They said the shelling was concentrated on the Dufas area in Zinjibar, capital of Abyan province. Eight soldiers were wounded in the fighting, according to the military hospital.

Militants are taking advantage of internal strife in Yemen to overrun parts of the country.

A senior military official said the shelling was meant to clear the way for the armed forces to retake the city. The Islamic militants had been counterattacking in night raids but have not hit back for three days, the official said.

The official said the Islamic militants planted land mines on the front lines to prevent the army from advancing.

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Pro-reform protests broken up by youths

RABAT, Morocco (AP) -- Pro-government demonstrators Sunday attacked democracy activists protesting constitutional reforms recently unveiled by the king.

Hundreds of youths pledging their support to King Mohammed VI broke up the pro-reform protests taking place in a lower-income neighborhood in Rabat, pursuing the activists through the narrow streets.

After pro-democracy protests swept Morocco in February, the monarch unveiled a series of constitutional reforms Friday. However, activists have described them as insufficient and have pledged to keep up their weekly demonstrations.

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Law on same-sex rights is OK'd in referendum

VADUZ, Liechtenstein (AP) -- Voters in Liechtenstein have overwhelmingly approved a new law giving gay and lesbian couples the right to formally register their partnership.

The government said that 68.8 percent of voters approved the law in a binding referendum Sunday and that 31.2 percent voted against it.

Catholic groups had challenged the law, saying that it would weaken traditional family ties.

Gay and lesbian couples will now be put on a par with heterosexual couples when it comes to inheritance, social security, immigration and taxation. They will still be barred from adopting children or accessing reproductive medical services.

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