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WORLD IN BRIEF: Experts say Haiti cholera from UN troops

PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti — A contingent of U.N. peacekeepers is the likely source of a cholera outbreak in Haiti that has killed at least 2,000 people, a French scientist said in a report obtained Tuesday by The Associated Press.

Epidemiologist Renaud Piarroux concluded that the cholera originated in a tributary of Haiti’s Artibonite river, next to a U.N. base outside the town of Mirebalais. He was sent by the French government to assist Haitian health officials in determining the source of the outbreak, a French Foreign Ministry official said Tuesday.

The report also calls for a further investigation of the outbreak, improved medical surveillance and sanitation procedures for U.N. peacekeeping troops and better support for Haitian health authorities.

Irish lawmakers offer initial OK for brutal budget

DUBLIN — Lawmakers narrowly approved tax hikes Tuesday as part of Ireland’s most brutal budget in history, an $8 billion slash-and-tax plan imposed as a key condition of the nation’s international bailout.

Rejection following Tuesday’s publication of the long-awaited 2011 budget would have forced Prime Minister Brian Cowen’s resignation and snap elections — and raised doubts about whether Ireland could tap $90 billion from the European Union and the International Monetary Fund.

But Cowen survived thanks to an 82-77 vote in favor of midnight hikes in taxes on vehicle fuel.

US general says Battle in Marjah is over

WASHINGTON — A senior Marine general in Afghanistan on Tuesday declared the battle in the southern Taliban stronghold of Marjah ‘‘essentially over.’’

The commander’s assertion of victory in Marjah comes 10 months after thousands of U.S.-led NATO troops stormed the cluster of farming hamlets to rout insurgents and cut off their income from the drug trade.

The campaign took longer than NATO officials had hoped, and underscored the complexity of trying to wrest control of an area where Taliban influence remained strong.

Maj. Gen. Richard Mills told reporters at the Pentagon on Tuesday the enemy has been pushed to the outskirts of the area, where insurgents come in from the desert to take ‘‘the odd shot at us.’’ In the more populated areas, Mills said Afghan police are mostly providing the security on their own.