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Deaths at 10 in police-gang shootouts

MEXICO CITY -- A series of running gunbattles Monday in Mexico's most violent state left nine gunmen and one state police officer dead, authorities said.

The shootouts in north-central Guanajuato state started before dawn near the hamlet of Santa Rosa de Lima, the stronghold of a gang of the same name.

State police, soldiers and National Guard agents rushed to respond to reports of armed men in the area, and all three forces came under fire from heavily armed assailants in vans, SUVs and pickups, officials said.

In the first clash, one state police officer was hit and later died at a hospital. Five assailants were reported killed.

As reinforcements arrived, they also came under attack and returned fire.

Officials said the combined law enforcement forces found four other bodies, many of them bullet-riddled, in vehicles around Santa Rosa de Lima, which is an agricultural area with many dirt roads. They reported seizing 10 assault rifles, 14 grenades and 30 gasoline bombs from the vehicles.

A Guanajuato-based security analyst, David Saucedo, said the shootouts initially started when gunmen from the Jalisco New Generation drug cartel attacked rivals from Santa Rosa de Lima. Both groups then apparently fired on responding law enforcement officers.

Officer in Pakistan polio escort slain

PESHAWAR, Pakistan -- Gunmen riding on a motorcycle shot and killed a policeman in northwestern Pakistan on Tuesday as he escorted a team of polio workers.

The attack in the district of Karak in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province took place on the second day of a nationwide anti-polio vaccination campaign that Pakistani authorities opened to eradicate the crippling disease by the end of the year.

The polio workers on the team in Karak escaped unharmed, according to police officer Irfan Khan. A search for the attackers who fled the scene was underway, he added. No one immediately claimed responsibility for the attack.

Pakistan regularly holds polio drives. It had hoped to eliminate polio back in 2018, when only 12 cases were reported. But in the years since there has been an uptick in new cases. The latest five-day anti-polio drive started Monday, with the goal to vaccinate 40 million children across Pakistan.

Militants often target polio teams and police assigned to protect them. The Pakistani Taliban claim the campaigns are a Western conspiracy to sterilize children.

French say 7 detainees linked to killer

LE PECQ, France -- French anti-terrorism police on Tuesday detained seven people suspected of having communicated on social media with the killer of a schoolteacher whose beheading last year reopened debate about France's cherished rights of expression, a judicial official said.

The teacher, Samuel Paty, was killed Oct. 16 outside his Paris-region school after showing caricatures of the Prophet Muhammad during a class debate on free expression.

His killer, identified by authorities as Abdoullakh Anzorov, was later shot dead by police. Anzorov, an 18-year-old refugee of Chechen origin who had become radicalized, according to authorities, claimed responsibility for the slaying in a text found on his phone that was accompanied by a photograph of the teacher.

The seven people detained Tuesday in the Paris region, as well as in western France and in the cities of Lyon and Toulouse, are suspected contacts of Anzorov, said the judicial official. The official wasn't authorized to publicly discuss details of the investigation and spoke on condition of anonymity.

Authorities already are investigating 14 people who face preliminary terrorism- and murder-related charges. Of those, seven have not been granted bail.

WHO to stockpile 500,000 Ebola shots

GENEVA -- The World Health Organization and partners said Tuesday that they are creating a global stockpile of Ebola vaccines to help stamp out future outbreaks.

In a statement, WHO, Doctors Without Borders, UNICEF and the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies said they were establishing an emergency reserve of about 500,000 doses; nearly 7,000 are available now and more will be added throughout the year and beyond. Financial support for the vaccine stockpile was provided by the vaccines alliance GAVI.

The Ebola vaccine being stockpiled is made by Merck. Before it was licensed, the shot was used to help contain outbreaks in Guinea and Congo under a protocol for "compassionate use."

Other stockpiles managed by WHO and partners exist for diseases including meningitis and yellow fever.

The Ebola vaccines will be stored in Switzerland, where they will be ready to be shipped after WHO and partners receive a request from countries. The agencies say any decision to release vaccines will be made within 48 hours of any such request and that the targeted delivery time is within one week.

-- Compiled by Democrat-Gazette staff from wire reports

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