Attackers kill 24
at Justice Ministry

Attackers unleashed a carefully planned assault with car bombs and gunmen disguised as police on the Iraqi Justice Ministry on Thursday, killing at least 24 people as hundreds of others crouched terrified in their offices.

The large and complex raid in the heart of downtown Baghdad came less than a week before the 10th anniversary of the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq.

The fighting lasted about an hour, ending with security forces storming the four-story building after some of the gunmen detonated suicide vests, according to police and witnesses. None of the attackers survived. The justice minister was not in the building, a deputy said.

There was no immediate assertion of responsibility, but the attack bore the hallmarks of al-Qaeda’s Iraqi arm.

— Associated Press

Suu Kyi faces anger
over mine project

With rare hostility, villagers sharply criticized opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi on Thursday as she traveled in northwestern Burma to explain why she supports a mining
project opposed by many local residents.

Suu Kyi failed to persuade the villagers to accept the findings of an official panel she headed that the Letpadaung copper mine should be allowed to continue operating to encourage foreign investors to help the lagging economy.

At one point, residents barricaded their village in Monywa township with thorny brush and allowed Suu Kyi to enter only after she had shed some of her police escort and accompanying journalists.

— Associated Press

Voters to consider
new constitution

Zimbabweans voting in a referendum this weekend are expected to endorse a new constitution that would curb presidential powers and lead to an election that will determine whether Robert Mugabe extends his 33-year rule.

The draft charter enjoys the support of both Mugabe’s ZANU-PF party and the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) of his arch rival, Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai.

Under the new constitution, presidential decrees would require majority backing in the cabinet, and declarations of emergency rule or dissolutions of parliament would need the approval of two-thirds of lawmakers.

— Reuters

Ex-Sunday Mirror editors arrested in phone-hacking case: Police arrested four former editors from the Sunday Mirror tabloid on Thursday, making them the first journalists from a newspaper outside Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp. to be detained in a phone-hacking scandal that shocked Britain. Revelations about journalists hacking cellphones caused public outrage that led to the closure in July 2011 of Murdoch’s News of the World, Britain’s largest circulation paper at the time.

17 Pakistani health workers
reinstated in jobs:
A Pakistani court reinstated in their jobs Thursday 17 health workers who were fired last year for allegedly participating in a CIA scheme to confirm the presence of Osama bin Laden in a town in northwest Pakistan, a defense lawyer said. Lawyer Javed Awan said the court order affected 16 female health workers and one male whom a government health department suspended last year for failing to inform authorities about Pakistani doctor Shakil Afridi’s fake vaccination campaign.

Monarch butterfly numbers plunge in Mexico: The number of monarch butterflies making it to their winter refuge in Mexico dropped 59 percent this year, falling to the lowest level since comparable record-keeping began 20 years ago, scientists reported. It was the third straight year of declines for the butterflies, which migrate from the United States and Canada to central Mexico.
Illegal logging in a reserve established in the monarch wintering grounds was long thought to contribute to the decline, but such logging has been vastly reduced.

— From news services