Musicians arrested overforeigncontacts

TEHRAN, Iran — Iranian police arrested five members of an underground band suspected of producing music for Farsi-speaking, dissident satellite channels based in the U.S.

The semiofficial Fars news agency quoted senior police official Col. Sadeq Rezadoost as saying the band was producing songs for Los Angeles-based Iranian singers and providing videos to Farsi-speaking, dissident TV channels.

The Wednesday report says the five have been handed over to the judiciary for trial. It did not name the band.

Women-only groups are banned in Iran, and Western music is rejected as “decadent.” Many Iranians turn to underground bands to get bootleg videos of foreign-based singers.

Contact with foreign-based dissident media outfits also is banned in Iran.

Fifth victim linked to Mexico dog pack

MEXICO CITY — Officials said they may have identified a fifth victim slain by a pack of feral dogs in a Mexico City park.

Prosecutors said a 15-year-old girl was found near the park on the night of Dec. 16, covered with apparent dog bites. She died in a hospital soon after.

Authorities began capturing dogs in the Cerro de Estrella park this week after a mother and her infant boy were found dead and covered in dog bites on Dec. 29.

On Saturday, the bodies of a teenage couple were found in the park in southeast Mexico City.

Macedonians call for early elections

SKOPJE, Macedonia — Macedonia’s main opposition party has called for early national elections in March, amid ongoing fallout from a rowdy budget debate.

The main opposition Social Democrats proposed Wednesday that the Parliamentary elections be held together with scheduled local elections about two years before the conservative government’s mandate expires.

The governing VMRO party is due to formally respond to the opposition demand following weekend deliberations.

But Interior Minister Gordana Jankulovska on Wednesday noted the opposition “has six times in row suffered a catastrophic defeat ... from (Macedonia’s) citizens who did not accord them their confidence.”

Turkey requeststhatKurdswithdraw

ANKARA, Turkey — Turkey’s prime minister has called on Kurdish rebels to withdraw forces from Turkish territory and disarm.

Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s appeal Wednesday came as Turkish officials were holding talks with jailed rebel leader Abdullah Ocalan with the goal of persuading the group to disarm and end a conflict that has killed tens of thousands of people since 1984.

Officials have not disclosed details on the talks, but news reports have claimed that the terms of a deal being negotiated include the declaration of a truce, followed by the rebels’ withdrawal from Turkey and the group’s disarmament.

The rebels are fighting for self-rule for Kurds in southeast Turkey.

Judge: Chavez can delay swearing-in

CARACAS, Venezuela — Venezuela’s Supreme Court president said the upcoming inauguration of President Hugo Chavez can legally be postponed.

Supreme Court President Luisa Estella Morales made the statement amid a heated debate between the government and opposition over whether the constitution requires the ailing leader to be sworn in for a new term on Thursday. The congress has voted to delay the ceremony.

Compiled byThe Associated Press