Myanmar's junta holds referendum despite crisis

YANGON, Myanmar - Myanmar's military rulers held a referendum Saturday aimed at solidifying their hold on power while brazenly turning cyclone relief efforts into a propaganda campaign. In some cases, generals' names were scribbled onto boxes of foreign aid before being distributed.

Human rights organizations and dissident groups have bitterly accused the junta of neglecting disaster victims in going ahead with the vote, which seeks public approval of a new constitution.

The referendum came just one week after Cyclone Nargis left more than 60,000 people dead or missing. The U.N. estimates that at least 1.5 million people have been severely affected.

Hezbollah fighters in Beirut melt away

BEIRUT, Lebanon - Hezbollah gunmen melted off the streets of Beirut Saturday, heeding an army call to pull the fighters out after the Shiite militants demonstrated their military might in a power struggle with the U.S.-backed government.

Prime Minister Fuad Saniora, in his first public statement since sectarian clashes erupted on Wednesday, said Lebanon can no longer tolerate Hezbollah having weapons. He called on the army to restore law and order and remove gunmen from the streets.

Clashes with Darfur rebels reported near Sudan's capital

KHARTOUM, Sudan - Hundreds of rebels from war-ravaged Darfur clashed with Sudanese security forces on the doorstep of the capital Saturday in a dramatic widening of the five-year-old conflict.

It was the first foray into the seat of the Sudanese government by a rebel group once confined to the western region, which is deeply scarred by the struggle between the ethnic African rebels and the Arab-dominated central government.

Cease-fire reported with Iraqi militants in Sadr City

BAGHDAD - Shiite groups brokered a reported cease-fire Saturday with militants fighting U.S. and Iraqi forces in Baghdad's Sadr City as the country's army launched an offensive in Mosul against al-Qaida's main bastion in Iraq.

Sheik Salah al-Obeidi, an aide to radical Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr, said the cease-fire will go into effect today. The cease-fire may not necessarily end the seven-week old clashes in Sadr City, the stronghold of al-Sadr's Mahdi Army, as U.S. military has blamed clashes on breakaway groups.

- From wire reports