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Dangerous storms ... Fighting continues in southern Helmand province ... Threat against Westerners in part of Beijing

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HOLLY SPRINGS, Miss. (AP) — Dangerous storms have left at least six people dead in Mississippi, Tennessee and Arkansas Wednesday. And crews continue searching for residents who are still missing. In Holly Springs, Mississippi, a 7-year-old boy died when the storm picked up and tossed the car he was riding in. And police say several homes were blown off their foundations. In northwest Mississippi, a tornado damaged or destroyed at least 20 homes.

KABUL, Afghanistan (AP) — Afghan officials say southern Helmand province remains under government control after being besieged by the Taliban for more than a week. But fighting continues in Sangin district. A police commander says overnight, insurgents captured the area around the district governor's compound. The Afghan army in Helmand says air strikes bombarded Taliban strong holds in Sangin, killing 25 insurgents. But operations were slowed as the insurgents began taking shelter in civilian homes.

BEIJING (AP) — Security is tight around a Beijing bar and shopping area popular with foreigners after embassies issued warnings that foreigners should be on guard for possible threats against them. The American, British, French and other embassies say they've received information of possible threats against Westerners in the Sanlitun area on or around Christmas Day. They're urging people to be vigilant.

BEIJING (AP) — More cities in China are issuing their first red alerts for pollution. Shandong province in eastern China has issued alerts in four cities, and officials say kindergarten, primary and middle schools should close and construction of buildings and roads, and demolition work, should stop. Beijing has issued two alerts this month. China's air pollution is notorious after three decades of breakneck economic growth.

LOS ANGELES (AP) — Southern California Gas Co. has agreed to speed up the relocation of residents affected by a now 2-month-old gas leak in Los Angeles. The leak was discovered Oct. 23 at a Southern California gas facility in the Porter Ranch area of Los Angeles. It already has forced the company to relocate thousands of residents who said the stench made them sick. The city attorney's office sought a court order to accelerate the relocation process.

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