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Cuban dissident dies in prison

HAVANA — An opposition political activist imprisoned since 2003 died Tuesday after a lengthy hunger strike, members of Cuba's human rights community said.

Orlando Zapata Tamayo died at a clinic at Havana's Combinado del Este prison, according to Vladimiro Roca, a leading dissident who said he spoke to Zapata Tamayo's family.

Tamayo, 42, was not among the island's best-known dissidents. He was arrested in 2003 on charges of disrespecting authority, said Elizardo Sanchez, head of the Havana-based, independent Cuban Commission on Human Rights and National Reconciliation.

He was sentenced to three years in prison, which Sanchez said was lengthened to 25 years, in part because of his political activism while behind bars.

Gas explosion kills 17 miners in Turkey

ANKARA, Turkey — A methane gas explosion caused an underground chamber in a coal mine in northwestern Turkey to collapse Tuesday, killing 17 workers, the governor said — the second deadly explosion at the mine in four years.

The blast near the town of Dursunbey in Balikesir province buried the miners 820 feet below the surface, said Erhan Ortakoylu, the mine's owner.

Rescue work was called off after 29 workers were evacuated, said Gov. Yilmaz Arslan of Bursa province.

Eleven workers and a mining engineer were killed inside the mine and five others died at a hospital, where they were admitted with severe burns, the state-run Anatolia news agency said.

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