Thursday, February 3, 2011; A08

Bombing kills 9; border attack kills 1

A car bomb killed nine people, including three children, near the northwestern city of Peshawar on Wednesday, the latest in a rash of attacks that are challenging police claims of progress against Islamist militants in the region.

Twenty other people were injured in the blast on a road leading to Pakistan's border with Afghanistan, said Siraj Ahmed Khan, a government official.

It was the third major bombing in or near the city in the past week.

Elsewhere in the tribal region Wednesday, several mortar rounds fired from Afghanistan landed near an army checkpoint in the Ghulam Khan area of North Waziristan, killing a Pakistani soldier and wounding three others, said Pakistani intelligence officials. The attack sparked an intense gun battle, they said.

- Associated Press

Al-Qaeda suspects die battling soldiers

Three suspected al-Qaeda militants who were killed when their vehicle exploded during a gunfight with Mauritanian soldiers Wednesday were planning to attack the French Embassy and an army base, the government said.

The vehicle was one of three that had crossed into the West African country from Mali last weekend and was being pursued by Mauritanian soldiers.

One vehicle, containing 1.5 tons of explosives, was captured along with one militant Tuesday; the second vehicle exploded during the gun battle Wednesday on the outskirts of the capital, Nouakchott. The third escaped.

- Reuters

Gangs stage attacks in several cities

Suspected drug cartel gunmen hurled grenades, burned vehicles and blocked streets in a rapid series of attacks in Guadalajara, Mexico's second-largest city, authorities said Wednesday.

The seven attacks within two hours late Tuesday appear to have been coordinated and were staged by drug gangs, possibly in retaliation for the arrests of their members, said Fernando Guzman Perez, interior secretary of Jalisco state, where Guadalajara is located. A policeman and two transportation workers were injured.

Other attacks took place Tuesday in the northern cities of Zacatecas and Monterrey, resulting in several deaths. Those attacks did not appear to be coordinated.

- Associated Press

Category 5 storm strikes flooded state

A massive cyclone struck northeastern Australia early Thursday, tearing off roofs, toppling trees and cutting power to thousands. It was the most powerful storm to hit the area in nearly a century.

The eye of Cyclone Yasi roared ashore at the small resort town of Mission Beach in Queensland state, battering the coast known as the gateway to the Great Barrier Reef with heavy rain and winds gusting to 186 mph.

Yasi compounded the suffering for Queensland, waterlogged by months of flooding that killed 35 people and inundated hundreds of communities. The storm struck an area north of the flood zone, but the Bureau of Meteorology said its drenching rains could cause floods in new parts of the state.

- Associated Press

Russia issues warning to Ireland in spy dispute: Russia has reacted angrily to Ireland's expulsion of a Russian diplomat, warning that it will respond in kind. Deputy Foreign Minister Vladimir Titov said in a statement that Moscow sees Ireland's move as an "unfriendly act," adding that there would be "a corresponding reaction." The Irish government said it was expelling the diplomat because Russian intelligence agents stole the identities of six Irish citizens to use as cover for spies operating in the United States.

British aid money helped fund papal visit: British lawmakers have demanded to know why almost $3 million of foreign aid money helped pay for the pope's recent visit to Britain. The government said the cost of the trip, to be confirmed next week, will probably be lower than the initial estimate of $16 million. But finding out that development funds helped finance it will surprise taxpayers, said Malcom Bruce, chairman of Parliament's international development committee.

- From news services

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