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National Briefs (Oct. 18 - 24)

10/17/2013, 7:41 p.m.

Gunmen kidnap 7 International Red Cross workers in northern Syria

BEIRUT (AP) - Gunmen abducted six Red Cross workers and a Syrian Red Crescent volunteer after stopping their convoy early Sunday in northwestern Syria, a spokesman said, in the latest high-profile kidnapping in the country's civil war. Simon Schorno, a spokesman for the International Committee of the Red Cross in Damascus, said the assailants snatched the seven aid workers from their convoy near the town of Saraqeb in Idlib province around 11:30 a.m. local time (0830 GMT) as the team was returning to Damascus. He declined to provide the nationalities of the six ICRC employees, and said it was not clear who was behind the attack

Homes, crops lost in cyclone, but Indian officials say mass evacuations spared many lives

BEHRAMPUR, India (AP) - Mass evacuations spared India the widespread deaths many had feared from a powerful weekend cyclone, officials said, as people picked up belongings and started repairing flooded towns, tangled power lines and tens of thousands of destroyed thatch homes. Cyclone Phailin, the strongest tropical storm to hit India in more than a decade, destroyed hundreds of millions of dollars' worth of crops, but a day after it made landfall in Orissa state on the country's east coast, authorities said they knew of only 17 fatalities. The final toll is expected to climb as officials reach areas of the cyclone-battered coast that remain isolated by downed communication links and blocked roads, but the evacuation of nearly 1 million people appeared to have saved many lives.