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Ariane III, the European Space Agency's (ESA) entry in the high-stakes competition for commercial satellite launchings, blasted off Saturday from its South American base. The mission placed two telecommunications satellites into orbit.

The three-stage rocket was developed by a French-led, 11-nation West European consortium. Saturday's launch was the 10th in the Ariane program, which began in late 1979.

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An explosion occurred two days earlier at the ESA headquarters, for which the banned anarchist group Direct Action claimed responsibility. Scrawled in red paint on the outside of the building was the message, ''War Against War.''