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Jan. 27, 2013 at 12:00 PM   |   Comments

At least 245 die in Brazilian club fire

SANTA MARIA, Brazil, Jan. 27 (UPI) -- At least 245 people died in fire at a packed nightclub in Santa Maria, Brazil, Sunday, police said. Hundreds of others were injured.

Most of the deaths at Kiss nightclub appeared to have been the result of smoke inhalation, CNN reported.

Col. Adilomar Silva, the regional coordinator of civil defense, said the death toll was expected to rise as firefighters were still pulling bodies out of the club.

The fire broke out around 2 a.m. local time with an estimated 400 people in the club, CNN said.

There was reportedly only one exit door, O Globo, Rio de Janeiro, said.

"It was a small door for a lot of people" Luana Santos Silva, who was at the nightclub, told O Globo.

The injured were taken to three hospitals, the newspaper said.


U.S. aids French mission in Mali

BAMAKO, Mali, Jan. 27 (UPI) -- The United States has increased its aid to French forces fighting Islamist militants in Mali, providing aerial refueling and transportation, the Pentagon said.

The United States agreed to the refueling missions Saturday after a call between U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta and French Defense Minister Jean-Yves Drian, CNN reported Sunday.

"The leaders also discussed plans for the United States to transport troops from African nations, including Chad and Togo, to support the international effort in Mali. Secretary Panetta and Minister Le Drian resolved to remain in close contact as aggressive operations against terrorist networks in Mali are ongoing," a statement from the Pentagon read.

The U.S. Air Force has flown at least seven missions into Mali, carrying 200 passengers and 168 tons of equipment, said Maj. Robert Firman, a Pentagon spokesman.

The United States had mulled how deeply to get involved in the conflict, which could have broader political and strategic implications, aides said.

Intelligence reports said the extremists in Mali are no direct threat to the United States, but they can threaten the region. "And that's where the argument for American involvement comes in," said one official.

American policy prohibits direct military aid to Mali because its government is the result of a coup, CNN reported. Leaders in Mali must be chosen through an election first.


61 dead in Pakistani militant clashes

TIRAH, Pakistan, Jan. 27 (UPI) -- Sixty-one people have died in clashes between two outlawed groups of militants in Pakistan's Tirah valley, sources told Geo News.

The fighting between Ansarul Islam and Tahrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) began Friday and was ongoing through Sunday. The conflict was started when TTP members captured an Ansarul Islam base and the second group retaliated.

Ansarul Islam said it would not let TTP make hideouts in the valley, which it deems under its control. The group said it does not support TTP terror activities in Pakistan.

Tirah valley is a mountainous terrain, making it difficult for Pakistani military to enter. It is highly valued by militant groups, which can use it as a base of operations, while allowing easy access to Afghanistan and tribal Pakistan, Geo News reported.

Most of the dead were militants, though sources said some local tribesmen died in the fighting as well.


Holocaust victims remembered

LONDON, Jan. 27 (UPI) -- Individuals from around the world are paying tribute to the Holocaust victims as part of the International Holocaust Remembrance Day, officials said.

The United Nations designated Jan. 27, the day Soviet troops liberated the Auschwitz-Birkenau death camp in 1945, as a Holocaust remembrance day in 2005, Radio Free Europe reported.

BBC reported 1 million people died at the camp before it was liberated.

The United Nations said this year's theme was "Rescue During the Holocaust: The Courage to Care," honoring those who risked their lives to save Jews and other victims of the Holocaust.

BBC said 1,500 events are being held around the United Kingdom, including a ceremony at the Millennium Bridge in London.

Tanjug News Agency said a ceremony was held in Serbia at the Staro Sajmiste concentration camp memorial.

At the ceremony, Serbian parliament speaker Nebojsa Stefanovic said the crimes of the Holocaust must never be forgotten.

"I want to believe that a memory of the death and suffering of the victims will obligate new generations to stand up to every form of prejudice, chauvinism, anti-Semitism and irrational hate," Stefanovic said.


Casey Anthony files for bankruptcy

ORLANDO, Fla., Jan. 27 (UPI) -- Casey Anthony said filing for bankruptcy in Orlando, Fla., "is the next step towards closure" in the high-profile death of her 2-year-old daughter, Caylee.

Anthony owes approximately $800,000 -- mostly to her attorney, Jose Baez -- though she only has about $1,084, the petition, filed in U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Middle District of Florida, said.

"This is the next step towards closure for me," she said Friday after filing the petition.

Anthony is currently facing three civil lawsuits after a jury found her not guilty in July 2011 of murdering Caylee, aggravated child abuse and aggravated manslaughter.

She initially told police the girl's nanny, Zenaida Fernandez-Gonzalez, kidnapped her. Police discovered there was no nanny, and a woman of the same name is suing Anthony for defamation, the Orlando Sentinel reported.

Gonzalez's lawyer, Matt Morgan, said Anthony's bankruptcy is an attempt to delay the suit.

"This most recent filing appears to be yet another calculated delay tactic. We are not deterred and will stay the course," he said Saturday.

Anthony is also facing a civil lawsuit from Roy Kronk, the man who found Caylee's body. Her attorney's had speculated Kronk was the possible killer. Texas EquuSearch, is also suing, saying it spent $100,000 searching for Caylee.

Anthony owes approximately $500,000 to Baez; $145,660.21 to the Orange County Sheriff's Office; $68,540 to the Internal Revenue Service; $61,505 to the Florida Department of Law Enforcement; and $10,283.90 to the Metropolitan Bureau of Investigation, the Sentinel reported.

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