"Some peculiar movements" around North Korea's Yongbyon reactor were being studied by intelligence agencies Tuesday as a possible sign that the communist government is shutting down its nuclear program. It failed to meet its deadline for doing so last Saturday, but images captured by US spy satellites have since showed increased activity around the centerpiece of the program.

For the first time since September 1992, the British pound topped $2 in value against the US dollar Tuesday, and some analysts were projecting further gains to $2.10 a year from now. In London, the pound was trading at $2.0012, propelled by an unexpected surge in Britain's inflation rate to 3.1 percent last month. The pound's new value increases the spending power of Britons visiting the US but also makes British exports costlier.

Thousands of people were seeking refuge in school buildings and other temporary shelters in the southern Philippines Tuesday as combat intensified between government troops and Muslim rebels. Jolo Island had appeared relatively calm until last Friday night, when the Moro National Liberation Front dropped mortar shells on a marine base. At least 21 people have been killed in subsequent fighting.

Seventeen more people were found dead in cities across Mexico Monday, many of them stuffed into abandoned cars in an apparent escalation of warfare among drug gangs. The Mexico City newspaper El Universal put the number of deaths in the turf fight at more than 700 since Jan. 1, despite President Felipe Calderón's nationwide offensive against the problem. Analysts estimate that Mexican traffickers sell up to $30 billion worth of cocaine, methamphetamines, and other drugs a year to US buyers.

Elections officials in Nigeria were ordered to add Vice President Atiku Abubakar to the ballot for Saturday's national election as part of a Supreme Court finding that he'd been disqualified illegally. Abubakar, who is seeking the presidency, split with incumbent Olusegun Obasanjo two years ago and later was declared by an Obasanjo- appointed panel to have stolen government funds – an allegation he denies. It wasn't clear how the Election Commission would obey the order; 61 million ballots already are in print.

All relief agencies operating in Zimbabwe were stripped of their registrations and ordered to reapply, the government said Tuesday. The nongovernmental organizations, many of them from Western nations, were accused of using their activities as a cover to support the opposition Movement for Democratic Change in a campaign to overthrow President Robert Mugabe. Some of the agencies are involved in distributing food to help meet growing shortages and in combating one of Africa's worst AIDS epidemics.

A day after being arrested, the younger son of ex-Prime Minister Khaleda Zia was released by authorities in Bangladesh under a deal that requires his mother to go into exile. Arafat Rahman had been accused of corruption. His brother, Tariq Rahman, remains in jail on extortion charges. The military-backed government wants Zia and rival Sheikha Hasina, who've traded the premiership for 17 years, out of the country so it can address political corruption. Hasina, who's visiting relatives in the US, changed plans earlier this month to return home.

In an increasingly familiar pattern, police in China were hunting the owner of a coal mine after an explosion late Monday trapped 33 workers underground. The owner reportedly fled the scene in central Henan Province, depriving rescuers of knowledge that would make their efforts easier. Hours later, 12 men were stranded by flooding in a mine in southern Hunan Province. China's mine owners often delay in reporting accidents or don't report them at all.

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