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Historic piece of flag sold

A torn piece of the flag that flew on Lord Nelson's last ship, the Victory, sold at auction for $86,600 on Tuesday.

Auction House Bonhams included in the sale a letter dated 1856 from the Vicar of St. Nicholas Portslade, Henry Hoper, explaining how the flag was torn.

Hoper writes that sailors from the Victory were charged with folding the flag and placing it on the famed admiral's coffin after his death in the Battle of Trafalgar in 1805. During the funeral at St. Paul's Cathedral in London, the sailors ripped off a portion and divided it into smaller pieces.

Hoper said that some of the pieces were "scrambled for by the bystanders, one of whom was my wife's cousin Mr. J. Constable, from whom I obtained the relic."

Coca growers protest

LIMA, Peru _ Coca growers protesting government plans to eradicate their cocaine-producing crop briefly held a group of European tourists visiting Inca ruins in the Andean city of Cuzco Tuesday, police said.

The tourists, identified by Radioprogramas radio as 17 French and two Germans, were released after police stormed the Koricancha site, an Inca sun temple. Police said 70 protesters were detained.

The travelers were not harmed, station Radioprogramas said.

Ambush in Afghanistan

KANDAHAR, Afghanistan _ Militants ambushed an Afghan military patrol in a Taliban stronghold Tuesday, sparking a three-hour gunbattle that left four troops and two rebels dead, an official said.

About 20 men opened fire on 30 militia soldiers riding pickups through Nawbahar, a mountainous district of Zabul province, deputy police chief Jailani Khan said.

"It was a Taliban ambush," Khan said.

Death cause by bird flu

HANOI, Vietnam _ A 14-month-old boy who died Sept. 5 has tested positive for bird flu, bringing the country's death toll from the disease to 20, officials said today.

Neighboring Thailand, the only other country with human fatalities, has reported 10 deaths and announced on Tuesday the possibility that human-to-human transmission occurred in its latest case. Most people contracting the ailment get it from infected birds.

But the World Health Organization quickly downplayed fears over possible human to human spread, suggesting it was likely a "dead-end" transmission that scientists have seen before.

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