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Armed men invaded a private museum in Zurich, Switzerland, as it was about to close Sunday and stole $163.2 million worth of paintings by famous impressionists Paul C´Ezanne, Edgar Degas, Claude Monet, and Vincent van Gogh. The theft was the second of its type in Switzerland in less than a week. Last Wednesday, two Pablo Picasso paintings worth a combined $4.5 million were stolen from an exhibition in the town of Pfaeffikon.Skip to next paragraph
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Arson was being investigated as the cause of a fire that destroyed the No. 1 architectural treasure in South Korea Sunday night. Two cigarette lighters were found at the scene, the Namdaemun Gate, which once formed part of the security wall around the capital, Seoul. The gate dated to 1398. Rebuilding it will take at least three years and cost $21 million, the government estimated. Below, President-elect Lee Myung Bak (at front, with a hand to his face) and other officials leave the gate after an inspection tour.
Heavy new snowfalls appeared likely for parts of China just as millions of people prepared to return to the cities after spending the Lunar New Year holiday in their home villages. Rail and bus systems in some areas still are recovering from preholiday storms and bitter cold that caused massive delays and cost billions of dollars in damage. In western Guizhou Province, a bus skidded off a highway bridge Monday, killing or injuring 29 people.
Four years early, Chinese authorities released a leading journalist who'd been jailed for corruption, perhaps as a warning to others in the news media against criticizing the government. Yu Huafeng was deputy editor of the Southern Metropolis Daily in Guangdong when he and two colleagues were arrested in 2004. The newspaper helped to fuel public anger by reporting on the death of a man in police custody and on the threat to public health of the so-called SARS virus. The codefendants previously were freed. Rights groups have been pressuring China to free prisoners of conscience before this summer's Olympic Games in Beijing.