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Rulers believe Gadhafi hiding in south desert

TRIPOLI (AP) -- Libya's new rulers believe Moammar Gadhafi may be hiding in the southern desert under the protection of ethnic Tuareg fighters, while two of his sons are holed up in cities besieged by revolutionary forces elsewhere in the North African nation, officials said Wednesday.

Anti-Gadhafi fighters took over Tripoli and much of the country late last month, but the longtime Libyan ruler and his family fled and have been trying to rally supporters from hiding as fighting continues on three fronts -- Gadhafi's hometown of Sirte, Bani Walid and the southern city of Sabha.

Col. Ahmed Bani, the military spokesman for the National Transitional Council, which is now governing the country, said he couldn't confirm any information about Gadhafi's whereabouts, but he said Gadhafi's son, Seif al-Islam, is in Bani Walid, and another son, Muatassim, is in Sirte. Another military official said earlier that the Libyans have intelligence that Gadhafi is hiding in the vast southern desert.

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Violence up 39 percent from 2010, U.N. says

KABUL (AP) -- The monthly average of armed clashes, roadside bombings and other violence in Afghanistan is running 39 percent ahead of last year's figure, the U.N. reported Wednesday, with more complex suicide operations involving multiple bombers and gunmen.

The statistics show that the intensity of the nearly decade-old war is growing, not abating, as the United States and other nations start to withdraw some forces with an eye toward pulling all combat troops out by the end of 2014. The Taliban's resilience raises questions about whether the Afghan government and its Western allies have a solid grip on security -- and whether the Afghan forces can ever secure the nation by themselves.

In its quarterly report on Afghanistan, the U.N. said that as of the end of August, the average monthly number of incidents stood at 2,108, up 39 percent over the same period a year earlier. It did not provide comparable data. The figures include insurgent attacks as well as assaults by NATO and Afghan forces on Taliban figures and positions.

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U.S. Embassy warns of kidnapping plot

RIYADH, Saudi Arabia (AP) -- The U.S. Embassy in Saudi Arabia warned American citizens on Wednesday that a terrorist group may be planning to kidnap Westerners in the Saudi capital of Riyadh.

The embassy urged Americans in the kingdom to "exercise prudence and enhanced security awareness at all times." No further details of the possible plot were given.

Saudi Arabia has waged a heavy crackdown on Islamist militants since al-Qaida's Saudi branch launched a wave of attacks in the country in 2003, including suicide bombings and shootings that killed dozens of Saudis and foreigners. At least 11 Americans were among the dead.

The kingdom's security forces appeared to have largely crushed the militants by 2006, arresting or killing most of its known leaders.