Volcano erupts in southern Chile

SANTIAGO, Chile - About 700 people were evacuated as a volcano erupted Wednesday in southern Chile, rocking the area with explosions and spewing lava and ash.

But the Llaima volcano's eruptions were slowing by Wednesday afternoon, so a larger evacuation did not appear necessary.

The evacuees included about 200 tourists, National Forest Service employees and others in the surrounding Conguillio National Park, about 400 miles south of Santiago.

Hundreds spent the night outside or in shelters in Melipeuco, a town of 5,000 near the Llaima volcano. Others fled to communities farther away, but most were returning Wednesday.

Cancer center fire prompts evacuation

LONDON - Fire ripped through a historic cancer hospital Wednesday, forcing patients and staff to flee into the cold streets of west London and sending clouds of smoke billowing across the capital's skyline.

No injuries were reported in the blaze at the Royal Marsden Hospital, although the 150-year-old building was severely damaged.

Several patients were placed in an ambulance area on mattresses, being tended by nurses who covered them with extra blankets to fend off the cold. Other patients wrapped in blankets were led in wheelchairs to safety. Officials said they did not immediately know how many patients were evacuated.

Seventy-five firefighters fought the blaze, which broke out on the top floor and was described by the London Fire Brigade as 'very serious.'

Car bomb explodes near police station

ALGIERS, Algeria - A car bomb exploded near a police station in a town east of the Algerian capital Wednesday, killing at least four officers and ripping off the building's facade, witnesses said. An Arab broadcaster reported that an al-Qaida branch claimed responsibility for the suicide attack.

The blast followed twin suicide bombings on Dec. 11 at U.N. offices and a government building that killed at least 37 people in the capital of Algiers.

A journalist and another resident in the city of Naciria said the car sped toward the police station and exploded. The two, who spoke on condition of anonymity because they feared for their safety, said the attack appeared to be a suicide bombing.

Scotland Yard will assist Bhutto probe

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan - President Pervez Musharraf announced Wednesday that Scotland Yard will help investigate the assassination of Benazir Bhutto, reversing his initial rejection of foreign help after he came under pressure to allow a U.N. probe.

Authorities also pushed back parliamentary elections until Feb. 18 - a six-week delay prompted by the rioting that followed the opposition leader's death. Opposition parties condemned the delay but still plan to take part in the elections, seen as a key step in bringing democracy to Pakistan after years of military rule.

Both developments could ease the turmoil that has gripped Pakistan since Bhutto's slaying in a gun and suicide bomb attack, which plunged the nation deeper into political crisis as it struggles to contain an explosion of Islamic militant violence.

Kidnapped workers released unharmed

MOGADISHU, Somalia - Two foreign aid workers who were kidnapped by gunmen in Somalia were released unharmed after a week in captivity, officials said Wednesday.

Dr. Mercedes Garcia of Spain and nurse Pilar Bauza Moreno of Argentina were apparently healthy but tired after their ordeal, awaiting a Thursday flight out of the country.

'They are safe and sound and we give thanks for all the efforts' to win their release, said Paula Farias, president of the Spanish chapter of Doctors Without Borders.

Afghanistan sees 21 dead in fighting

KABUL, Afghanistan - Roadside bombs and military operations in Afghanistan killed 21 people, including a coalition soldier and 14 Taliban fighters, officials said Wednesday.

A roadside bomb hit a U.S.-led coalition vehicle in eastern Khost province, killing a soldier and an Afghan interpreter, the coalition said. The soldier's nationality was not released, but a majority of the troops in the east are American. Two other soldiers were wounded.

Afghan and foreign troops killed eight suspected Taliban fighters Tuesday the Musa Qala area of southern Helmand province, the Defense Ministry said.

Sudanese police question witnesses

KHARTOUM, Sudan - Authorities questioned witnesses Wednesday in the killing of a U.S. diplomat shot in a drive-by attack as he returned from a New Year's Eve party in the Sudanese capital. The U.S. sent its own investigators to the country.

One woman said she rushed to help the badly wounded American, who pleaded, 'I am dying, I need help,' the independent Al-Rai Al-Amm newspaper reported.