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Chavez heads to Cuba for new cancer surgery

CARACAS, Venezuela (AP) -- President Hugo Chavez bid an emotional farewell laced with references to Jesus Christ and independence hero Simon Bolivar as he departed Venezuela on Friday for Cuba.

He is to undergo urgent surgery to remove a tumor he says is probably malignant.

Clasping the hand of his youngest daughter, Rosines, Chavez addressed allies of his socialist political movement and troops standing at attention at the Miraflores presidential palace.

"I say this from my gut: With cancer or without cancer come rain, thunder or lightning nobody can avoid a great patriotic victory Oct. 7," the president said, referring to the date of Venezuela's presidential election.

"Long live Chavez!" he cried.

"Our (founding) father Simon Bolivar once said, 'I am a man of troubles.' I say as a son of Bolivar, I too am a man of troubles. We are a people of troubles," Chavez said.

"Let the troubles come and add like the cross of Christ to the definitive liberation of the country."

Chavez, 57, is turning to the same Cuban doctors who extracted a baseball-size cancerous tumor from his pelvic region last summer.

This time, the growth is smaller, about an inch in diameter.

The president has not disclosed the precise location of either tumor, nor said what kind of cancer he had, but described next week's surgery as urgent.


Spokesman predicts warfare between sects

BAGHDAD (AP) -- A spokesman for al-Qaida in Iraq said Friday that a Sunni Muslim war against Shiites in Iraq is inevitable and threatened relentless waves of attacks like the one a day earlier that killed at least 55 people.

The statement by Abu Muhammad al-Adnani, spokesman for the al-Qaida-linked Islamic State of Iraq, tap into fears in Iraq and abroad about the country's future stability and the government's ability to protect its citizens following the withdrawal of the last U.S. troops in December.

"The war of the Sunnis with the (Shiites) is a religious war, a holy war of faith," he said. "There is no way out of it and there is no swerving from it."

Despite deadly assaults against the Shiite-led government's security forces and Shiite pilgrims, there has been no indication that Iraq is returning to the sectarian bloodshed of 2006 and 2007 that pushed the nation to the brink of civil war. But Iraqis are increasingly frustrated with the government's failure to prevent attacks that continue to kill scores of Iraqis every month.


Prince in ski accident remains unconscious

AMSTERDAM (AP) -- A Dutch prince hit by an avalanche while skiing in Austria last week has suffered massive brain damage and may never regain consciousness, his doctors said Friday.

Johan Friso, the second of Dutch Queen Beatrix's three sons, was buried for 25 minutes before rescuers found him. It then took nearly 50 minutes to resuscitate the prince after he was pulled from the snow, time that may have caused permanent damage, said Dr. Wolfgang Koller, head of trauma at the Innsbruck hospital where the prince is being treated.

"It is clear that the oxygen starvation has caused massive brain damage to the patient," Koller said. "At the moment, it cannot be predicted if he will ever regain consciousness."

Friso, 41, who is married and has two young daughters, will be moved later to a rehabilitation clinic for further treatment. But Koller cautioned it may take years before he awakens from his coma -- if he ever does -- and any recovery from such significant brain damage is a process of "months or even years."