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WORLD: Pope backs Croatia in EU

Pope backs Croatia in EU

ZAGREB, Croatia -- Pope Benedict XVI strongly backed Croatia's bid to join the European Union as he arrived in the Balkan nation Saturday, but said he could understand fears among euroskeptics of the EU's ''overly strong'' centralized bureaucracy.

The pontiff also expressed the Vatican's long-running concern that Europe needs to be reminded of its Christian roots ''for the sake of historical truth'' as he began his first trip as pope to Croatia, a deeply Roman Catholic country that his predecessor visited three times during and after the bloody Balkan wars of the 1990s.

Benedict is spending the weekend to mark the Croatian church's national family day, and he was warmly welcomed by thousands of young Croats who braved a steady rain while waiting for Benedict to arrive for an evening prayer vigil.

Ex-Tijuana mayor held over guns

TIJUANA, Mexico -- Former Tijuana Mayor Jorge Hank Rhon, one of Mexico's most flamboyant businessmen and politicians, has been detained on suspicion of illegal weapons possession, the federal Attorney General's Office announced Saturday.

Mexican troops raided Hank Rhon's Tijuana house and found 88 guns, officials said. The Attorney General's Office said Hank Rhon and 10 other people were detained.

Mexican law limits ownership of large firearms to the military and requires licensing of most other guns. Violations can be punished by as long as 15 years in prison in some cases.

Hank Rhon's office did not respond to messages seeking comment.

Evacuations as volcano erupts

SANTIAGO, Chile -- The Puyehue volcano in southern Chile is erupting, and authorities have evacuated about 600 people living nearby. There have been no reports of injuries.

The governor of Chile's Los Rios region says fire can be seen in the volcano's crater and smoke is billowing into the sky.

Authorities put the area around the volcano on alert Saturday morning after a flurry of earthquakes. The National Emergency Office says it has recorded an average of 230 tremors an hour.

The volcano is nearly 500 miles south of Santiago, the national capital.