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WORLD IN BRIEF: Former Mexico presidential candidate is missing

MEXICO CITY -- A former Mexican presidential candidate who has remained a power broker in the ruling party was missing amid signs of violence, the federal Attorney General's Office said Saturday.

Prosecutors said the car of Diego Fernandez de Cevallos was found near his ranch in the central state of Queretaro. They said some of his belongings were found inside the car as well as unspecified ''signs of violence.''

The Mexican newspaper El Universal reported that federal sources said Fernandez de Cevallos had been kidnapped, but a federal prosecutor's spokeswoman said she couldn't confirm that.

Fernandez de Cevallos, 69, was the 1994 presidential candidate of the National Action Party that now governs Mexico and he has continued to be an influential figure, as well as one of Mexico's most successful attorneys.

As death toll rises, Thailand PM defends crackdown

BANGKOK -- Thailand's leader defended the deadly army crackdown on protesters besieging the capital's heart, saying Saturday the country's very future was at stake. Protesters dragged away the bodies of three people from sidewalks -- shot by army snipers, they claim -- as soldiers blocked major roads and pinned up notices of a ''Live Firing Zone.''

''I insist that what we are doing is necessary,'' Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva said in a defiant broadcast on national television, making it clear he would not compromise. ''The government must move forward. We cannot retreat because we are doing things that will benefit the entire country.''

At least 24 people have been killed and more than 194 wounded since Thursday. Previous violence since the protest began in mid-March caused 29 deaths and injured 1,640.

Lone crash survivor returns to Dutch home

AMSTERDAM -- The 9-year-old Dutch boy who miraculously survived a plane crash in Libya returned to the Netherlands aboard an airborne ambulance Saturday and was whisked away to a hospital in his hometown, where he must begin to rebuild his life without his parents or brother.

Ruben van Assouw was the sole survivor, pulled unconscious from the wreckage of an Afriqiyah Airways jetliner that plunged into the desert less than a mile from the runway in Tripoli four days ago, killing 103 people.