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Army in control after violence

on March 23, 2013 9:59 AM

MEIKHTILA, Myanmar (AP) — Myanmar’s army took control of a ruined central city today, imposing a tense calm after several days of clashes between Buddhists and Muslims left piles of corpses in the streets and buildings ablaze in the worst sectarian bloodshed to hit the Southeast Asian nation this year.

Truckloads of soldiers could be seen patrolling Meikhtila and taking up positions at intersections and banks as authorities delivered food and water to thousands of displaced Muslims. Some residents, who had cowered indoors since the mayhem began Wednesday, emerged from their homes to take in the destruction.

President Thein Sein, a former general who vowed to bring democracy to Myanmar after half a century of military rule, imposed a state of emergency in the region Friday to stop violence from spreading.

Filipino militants free Australian

MANILA, Philippines (AP) — Al-Qaida-linked militants in the southern Philippines today released an emaciated-looking Australian man near a coastal town where they kidnapped him for ransom 15 months ago.

Warren Richard Rodwell was brought to police by residents of Pagadian city who saw him walking before dawn near the fishing port, where his abductors dropped him off, said local police chief Julius Munez.

Rodwell “looked OK, just tired,” Munez said.

In Washington, where he is on a visit, Foreign Minister Bob Carr welcomed the news, saying the release was a joint effort by authorities in both countries, and that the focus now was on Rodwell’s speedy recovery.

Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard praised Rodwell’s family for showing “a great deal of courage and stoicism in what has been a tremendously difficult situation.”

Bersani tapped as Italy leader

ROME (AP) — Italy’s center-left leader, Pier Luigi Bersani, was given the tough task Friday to form a new and viable government, which is badly needed to steer the country out of recession and get more Italians back to work.

National elections last month produced no clear winner, but President Giorgio Napolitano said Bersani, 61, was best positioned to create a government given “the most difficult circumstances” — a reference that while the political leader has a comfortable majority in the lower house, the Senate is split.

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