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Air raid accidentally kills soldiers

KABUL, Afghanistan, July 7 (UPI) -- A NATO air raid Wednesday accidentally killed five Afghan soldiers in southwest Ghazani province, Afghan officials said.

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A provincial police official told Xinhua news agency a group of soldiers tried to ambush Taliban insurgents in the Andar district of Ghazni province when a NATO plane mistakenly dropped a bomb, killing the soldiers.

Afghan Defense Ministry spokesman Zahir Azimi condemned the incident and a NATO spokesman said an investigation was under way, Xinhua reported.

"The gruesome incident occurred at 4 a.m., local time, when the aircraft carried out raids, as a result five Afghan soldiers were martyred and two others sustained injuries. Defense Ministry strongly condemns it," Xinhua quoted Azimi as telling reporters.


Gov. nixes civil union bill; groups to sue

HONOLULU, July 7 (UPI) -- Supporters of civil unions for homosexual couples in Hawaii say they plan to sue in state court now that the governor vetoed a civil union bill.

The groups, which include the American Civil Liberties Union and Lambda Legal, said they will ask a judge to rule Hawaii's constitution provides for equal rights, including civil unions, to gay and lesbian couples, KITV, Honolulu, reported Tuesday.

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"We are standing ready to file that lawsuit in short order to ensure that LGBT (gays, lesbians, bisexual and transgender) families in Hawaii are provided equal rights and benefits. To be sure, the Hawaii Constitution already provides that and we're going to make sure that the courts agree with us," ACLU-Hawaii Legal Director Lois Perrin said.

Gov. Linda Lingle said she expected censure of her decision after vetoing the legislation Tuesday. After her veto was announced, civil union supporters criticized her for saying voters should decide the fate of civil unions.

"While ours is a system of representative government, it also is one that recognizes that from time to time there are issues that require the reflection, collective wisdom and consent of the people," Lingle said during news conference.


Missing 4-year-old found alive

FENTON, Mo., July 7 (UPI) -- A 4-year-old girl who was abducted from the front yard of her Missouri home has been found alive, St. Louis County police say.

Alisa Maier was seen wandering at a gas station car wash in Fenton, Mo. Tuesday night more than 24 hours after an Amber Alert was issued for her disappearance, KSDK-TV, St. Louis, reports.

Witnesses told detectives they saw a young boy walking away from a vehicle and wandering unattended at the station.

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Investigators believe the man who abducted Alisa from her home in Louisiana, Mo., Monday may have altered her appearance after picking her up.

Louisiana Police Chief Richard Hughes says the only witness to Alisa's abduction was her older brother who said he saw his sister get into a car with a man he didn't know.

Due to the ongoing investigation, authorities will not answer any questions regarding the child's condition or why she may have been mistaken for a boy.


Running of bulls begins with 2 injuries

PAMPLONA, Spain, July 7 (UPI) -- Two people were injured out of hundreds of runners who took a chance Wednesday on the first day of the running of the bulls in Pamplona, Spain, officials said.

Medical officials said the two men -- an Australian and a Spaniard -- were hospitalized in stable condition, CNN reported.

Navarra regional government officials said it took the six bulls and a pack of tame steers, which help guide the bulls, 17 seconds to emerge from the corrals after the run's opening rocket was fired. The herd moved through the cobblestone streets of old Pamplona along the 902-yard course to the bullring for a bullfight later in the day, CNN said.

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The run lasted 2 minutes and 23 seconds and the bulls and steers stayed mainly together, signifying a safer run, observers said. If the bulls get separated and frightened, they may charge the runners.

The annual tradition has logged thousands of injuries and 14 deaths since record-keeping began in 1924, including the fatal goring of a Spanish man last year. The run in Pamplona began 400 years ago but gained worldwide popularity after American author Ernest Hemingway wrote about it in his book "The Sun Also Rises."


Justice official executed

BEIJING, July 7 (UPI) -- A former senior justice official in China was executed Wednesday for accepting bribes, shielding criminal gangs and rape, a high court said.

Wen Qiang, 55, former director of judicial bureau in the southwestern Chongqing municipality, was executed after his death sentence was approved by the Supreme Court, Xinhua news agency reported. He was sentenced to death by a lower court after his arrest in September 2009.

Wen also had served as vice director of the Chongqing municipal public security bureau prior to his arrest, the report said.

He was accused of taking bribes totaling about $1.76 million on his own or through his wife from 1996 to 2009 and helping companies and business people obtain illegal profits. The wife is serving an eight-year jail sentence on the bribery conviction, the report said.

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Wen also was convicted of shielding five major organized crime gangs and raping a university student after getting her drunk.

The Xinhua report said Wen was the highest ranking official to fall in last year's massive crackdown on organized crime in Chongqing. More than 90 local officials were prosecuted and 42 were found guilty of sheltering criminal gangs.

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