Families of Russian troops captured, killed or missing in Ukraine want answers on their fate
MOSCOW — The last time Valeria Sokolova saw her husband, the 25-year-old paratrooper told her that he and his fellow soldiers were heading for military exercises in southern Russia, near the Ukrainian border.
“He was vague in a way that was very unusual, and it was hard for all of them to say goodbye,” Sokolova told The Associated Press, recounting their conversation from earlier this month.
On Monday, 10 men from his division were captured in eastern Ukraine amid fighting between pro-Moscow separatists and Ukrainian troops. At least two others from the division were killed and an unspecified number were wounded.
Sokolova, the mother of a 6-year-old boy, does not know the fate of her husband, and she said Russian military officials have released no information about the servicemen. She fears for his safety.
Similar questions are being raised by families of other Russian servicemen about unexplained deaths and missing or captured soldiers who are said to be on military exercises. The answers could undermine public support for President Vladimir Putin and his policies in Ukraine.
Mexico’s new enforcement cuts off route for Central American family and child migrants
CHAHUITES, Mexico — Mexico’s largest crackdown in decades on illegal migration has decreased the flow of Central Americans trying to reach the United States, and has dramatically cut the number of child migrants and families, according to officials and eyewitness accounts along the perilous route.
Convoys of Mexican federal police and immigration service employees in southern Mexico have begun scouring the tracks of the infamous freight train known as “La Bestia,” or The Beast, that has long carried crowds of migrants on its lumbering route north. They have also set up moving roadblocks, checking the documents of passengers on interstate buses.
Associated Press journalists witnessed dozens of federal police and Mexican immigration agents storming the train as it came to an unscheduled stop in the post-midnight darkness Friday.
“We’re federal agents! Give up! You’re surrounded! Come down carefully!” the lawmen shouted to the huddled, stunned migrants.
Fewer than 15 were detained on a train that once carried 600 to 1,000 migrants at a time.
A federal judge Friday blocked a Texas restriction set to take effect Monday that could have led to the closure of most of the abortion clinics in the state.
Judge bars Texas rule on abortion clinics
In a 21-page opinion, U.S. District Judge Lee Yeakel ruled that the measure, which would have required clinics performing abortions to have hospital-like building features and equipment, put an undue burden on women seeking the procedure.
The ruling drew immediate praise from abortion rights advocates, who have logged a series of legal victories recently in efforts to block a wave of state laws severely restricting access to the procedure.
“The court has made clear that women’s well-being is not advanced by laws attacking access to essential health care, and that rights protected by the U.S. Constitution may not be denied through laws that make them impossible to exercise,” Nancy Northup, president of the Center for Reproductive Rights, the organization that challenged the restrictions, said in a statement.
Lauren Bean, a spokeswoman for the Texas attorney general’s office, said the state would appeal. “The State disagrees with the court’s ruling and will seek immediate relief,” she said in a statement.
Liberia to lift cordon around slum neighborhood sealed off to stop Ebola’s spread
DAKAR, Senegal — Liberia says it will open up a slum in its capital where thousands of people were barricaded to contain the spread of Ebola.
Information Minister Lewis Brown says lifting the quarantine Saturday morning will not mean there is no Ebola in the West Point Slum.
But authorities feel confident they can screen for the sick and that the community now actively fighting the disease.
The slum of 50,000 people in Liberia’s capital was sealed off more than a week ago, sparking unrest and leaving many without access to food or safe water.
Rescuers locate 20 of at least 24 trapped in gold mine landslide in Nicaragua
BONANZA, Nicaragua — Rescuers on Friday located 20 of at least 24 freelance gold miners trapped underground by a landslide in northern Nicaragua, but were not immediately able to bring them to safety.
Teams of dogs helped locate the 20 miners, and rescue workers were laboring to get them out, said Milagros Solorzano of the ruling Sandinista Party in the community of Bonanza.
Soloranzo told local Channel 8 that the 20 miners were located in a kind of cave inside the mine and have been able to communicate with rescue workers. They said they didn’t know the whereabouts of the other four.
Relatives of the trapped miners gathered Friday on the margins of the rescue operation. Friends held up Margarita Mendez, who looked like she was going to faint as she awaited news about her son, Salvador Urbina.
The slide occurred Thursday at the El Comal gold and silver mine operated by Hemco in the town of Bonanza, about 260 miles northeast of Managua.
By wire sources