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WORLD - US seeks visas for families of jailed hikers

US seeks visas for families of jailed hikers

WASHINGTON — The Obama administration on Friday renewed calls for Iran to immediately release three American hikers detained for nearly nine months and also appealed to the Iranian government to issue their families visas to visit them.

A day after the families said two of the three are in poor health, the White House and State Department said there was no reason for their continued incarceration. Their comments came after reports from Swiss diplomats who were allowed to visit the trio in Tehran's notorious Evin prison on Thursday.

‘‘We are disturbed by the families' reports of their children's physical and emotional health,'' said Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton. ‘‘These three Americans — innocent tourists in Iraq's Kurdistan region when they were detained on July 31, 2009 — have been unjustly held for almost nine months without formal charges or access to legal representation.''

6 officers killed in ambush

CIUDAD JUAREZ, Mexico — Gunmen ambushed two police vehicles at a busy intersection in Ciudad Juarez on Friday, killing six officers and a 17-year-old girl who was passing by, authorities said.

Chihuahua state spokesman Enrique Torres Valadez said five of the six police officers were federal, and one was municipal. Authorities said the police officers in the vehicles were distracted by someone selling items on the street when the gunmen opened fire. The assailants then fled in three vehicles.

Investigators said they don't know why the officers were shot, although they don't believe they were targeted because of any recent arrests they had made.

Bombs kill 69 in Shiite areas

BAGHDAD — The bloodiest day of the year in Iraq left at least 69 people dead in a series of bombings in mainly Shiite areas Friday — concerted attacks seen as demonstrating the resilience of the Sunni-led insurgency after the slaying of two al-Qaida leaders last weekend.

No one has taken responsibility for the blasts, but officials were quick to blame Sunni-led insurgent groups for attacking at a particularly fragile time as Iraq awaits formation of a new government and prepares for U.S. troops to go home by the end of next year.