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WORLD IN BRIEF: Afghan Taliban relying on human shields

MARJAH, Afghanistan -- Taliban fighters holding out in Marjah are increasingly using civilians as human shields, firing from compounds where U.S. and Afghan forces can clearly see women and children on rooftops or in windows, Afghan and U.S. troops said Wednesday.

The intermingling of fighters and civilians also has been witnessed by Associated Press journalists. It is part of a Taliban effort to exploit strict NATO rules against endangering innocent lives to impede the allied advance through the town in Helmand province, 360 miles southwest of Kabul.

Two more NATO service members were killed in the Marjah operation Wednesday, the alliance said in a statement without identifying them by nationality.

8 of 10 US missionaries to be freed in Haiti

PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti -- A Haitian attorney said eight of 10 U.S. missionaries charged with child kidnapping will be released.

Aviol Fleurant said group leader Laura Silsby and Charisa Coulter will be held for additional questioning. Fleurant represents nine of the 10 members of the Idaho-based church group.

He said the rest of the group are free to leave Wednesday but have not arranged transportation.

Judge Bernard Saint-Vil said earlier in the day that some of the group members would be free to go home Wednesday. But he said he was waiting for the prosecutor's opinion before announcing who would be freed.

Arrest of Taliban's No. 2 confirmed

ISLAMABAD -- Pakistan confirmed for the first time Wednesday that it has the Afghan Taliban's No. 2 leader in custody, and officials said he was providing useful intelligence that was being shared with the United States.

The confirmation came as the Pakistani government defused a political crisis that threatened to distract from the fight against militancy by backing off on judicial appointments opposed by the Supreme Court.

The Afghan Taliban leader, Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar, was arrested earlier this month in a joint operation by CIA and Pakistani security forces in the southern port city of Karachi, U.S. and Pakistani officials said on condition of anonymity Tuesday. The army on Wednesday gave the first public confirmation of the arrest.