Some Darfur aid may be restored

KHARTOUM, Sudan - U.S. Sen. John Kerry said yesterday that Sudan had agreed to allow some aid back into Darfur, more than a month after the Sudanese president expelled more than a dozen aid groups from the region.

President Omar al-Bashir expelled 13 international aid groups and three local ones after the International Criminal Court issued an arrest warrant for him on charges of war crimes and crimes against humanity in Darfur.

Kerry said that with the assistance of special U.S. envoy Scott Gration, some humanitarian assistance would be restored. But he did not say whether the expelled groups would be allowed to return. The visit was the first by a member of Congress since the ICC issued its warrant in March. - AP

India polls open; attacks kill 17

NEW DELHI - Violence marred the start of the month-long national election in the world's largest democracy yesterday, as voters cast ballots to choose a new government that will confront the twin challenges of the global economy and terrorism.

In 14 attacks on polling stations and vehicles carrying election officials, 17 people were killed in eastern and central India. The strikes were blamed on Maoist insurgents, who had called for a poll boycott in several areas.

The election commission said voter turnout was 46 percent to 86 percent among the 140 million eligible voters in 17 states voting yesterday. The five-phase national election ends May 13. About 714 million people are eligible to vote. - AP

Rebels to release long-held hostage

BOGOTA - Colombia's largest rebel group promised yesterday to release an army corporal kidnapped 11 years ago in a hostage case made famous by his father, who walked across the country to push for his release.

The Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia said it would unilaterally release Cpl. Pablo Emilio Moncayo, who was 19 when taken hostage during a raid on a communications post on Dec. 21, 1997.

His father, schoolteacher Gustavo Moncayo, spent over a month walking more than 620 miles across Colombia in 2007 to rally support for a prisoner swap that would include his son's release. Pablo Moncayo, now 31, is one of the longest-held of FARC's hostages.

- AP

Elsewhere:

Bolivian police said they broke up an international band of assassins plotting to kill President Evo Morales during a shoot-out in eastern Bolivia. Three suspects were killed and two arrested in Santa Cruz, the center of Morales' political opposition.

Monaco's hotel service was limited and some casino roulette wheels stopped spinning because of a strike protesting job cuts in the wealthy Mediterranean principality, union leaders and hotel officials said. With the Monte Carlo Masters tennis tournament this week, hotels are operating at near capacity.