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Oct. 16, 2010 at 12:00 PM
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Coal mine blast kills 20 in China

YUZHOU, China, Oct. 16 (UPI) -- A methane gas explosion in a central Chinese coal mine killed at least 20 miners Saturday and trapped another 17 workers, state officials said.

The explosion happened around 6 a.m. outside Yuzhou City in a mine jointly owned by a private company and the state, the state-run news Xinhua agency said.

One national ministry said 239 miners escaped, the BBC reported.

There was no immediate indication of what rescue operations were being undertaken or how far underground the men were.

China's mines have a notoriously dangerous history. The BBC said the country has the most deadly mining record in the world, with more than 2,600 fatalities in 2009 alone.

Violent death toll mounts in Pakistan

KARACHI, Pakistan, Oct. 16 (UPI) -- Domestic unrest and international interventions took a bloody toll in Pakistan Saturday amid targeted executions and international air drone attacks.

At least 11 people were killed in Karachi in so-called target executions among political factions in a 24-hour period, Pakistan's Dawn newspaper reported.

At least two of the victims were described by authorities as youths and they were apparently tortured before they were killed, the report said.

To the northwest, U.S. drone missile attacks killed at least four people in the North Waziristan region that borders Afghanistan, China's Xinhua news agency reported.

The anti-Taliban attack was the second in 24 hours. The first, early Friday, reportedly also killed four people. Among them was suspected Taliban commander Qari Hussain, whom the United States claims was the mastermind behind a series of anti-government bombings throughout Pakistan.

General: Taliban leaders accommodated

LONDON, Oct. 16 (UPI) -- The commanding U.S. general in Afghanistan says NATO forces have made accommodations for regional militant Taliban leaders to travel safely to Kabul for talks.

Speaking to the Royal United Services Institute in London, U.S. Army Gen. David Petraeus said despite the vicious fighting in Afghanistan, extremist leaders have been allowed free passage to the capital, the BBC reported.

"Indeed in certain respects we do facilitate that, given that needless to say it would not be the easiest of tasks for a senior Taliban commander to enter Afghanistan and make his way to Kabul," Petraeus said.

He offered few other details about the U.S. or NATO efforts to bring militants closer to Afghan President Hamid Karzai's government.

More than 35 countries have troops in Afghanistan as part of the NATO mission to bring down the Muslim totalitarian Taliban movement and end the country's massive opium poppy network.

BP compensation fund called vulnerable

LONDON, Oct. 16 (UPI) -- Funds made available for victims of the BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico are vulnerable to fraudulent claims, the U.S. administrator of the funding said.

Kenneth Feinberg, who administrated compensation funds for victims of the Sept. 11 2001 terrorist attacks, said, "There's no doubt that fraud is hovering all the time over a program like this," the British Broadcasting Corp. reported Saturday. Feinberg was interviewed by the BBC.

He also said he would be vigilant about processing claims. About $1.3 billion of the $20 billion fund set up for victims of the Deepwater Horizons oil spill, has been dispersed.

The oil spill began with an explosion on an oil platform in the gulf that killed 11 workers.

The compensation program has received 160,000 applications for compensation, about half in the past two weeks, Feinberg said.

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