US deaths in Iraq hit wartime low in October

BAGHDAD - U.S. deaths in Iraq fell in October to their lowest monthly level of the war, matching the record low of 13 fatalities suffered in July. Iraqi deaths fell to their lowest monthly levels of the year.

Eight of the 13 Americans died in combat, most of them in northern Iraq where al-Qaida and other Sunni insurgent groups remain active. The U.S. military suffered 25 deaths in September and 23 in August.

The sharp drop in American fatalities reflects the overall security improvements across the country following the Sunni revolt against al-Qaida and the rout suffered by Shiite extremists in fighting last spring in Basra and Baghdad.

Cameroon militia threatens to kill oil workers

YAOUNDE, Cameroon - A Cameroon militia group took 10 mostly foreign oil workers hostage Friday off this West African nation's coast, and threatened to kill the captives if demands for autonomy talks with the government are not met.

Militia commander Ebi Dari told The Associated Press by telephone from an undisclosed location that his group and an allied militia seized six French workers, two Cameroonians, one Senegalese and one Tunisian from the Bourbon Sagitta off Cameroon's coast early Friday.

'Joe the Plumber' hits New Zealand election trail

WELLINGTON, New Zealand - Prime Minister Helen Clark found New Zealand's 'Joe the Plumber' on the campaign trail Friday.

Clark was campaigning at a retirement home in the northern city of Auckland when a visiting plumber, Morgan Luxton, asked her how her Labour party would help the self-employed.

Clearly aware of the now-famous American tradesman Joe the Plumber, Clark slipped the word 'plumber' into her response nearly a dozen times.

Congo rebel leader wants talk with gov't

GOMA, Congo - With a cease-fire appearing to halt most fighting, a rebel leader said Thursday he wanted direct talks with the Congo government. Envoys from the U.S. and U.N. were sent in to help set up negotiations.

Sporadic gunfire could still be heard Thursday night in Goma, the provincial capital of eastern Congo, but the city was calm for much of the day.