Leftists claim attacks
before Kurdish truce

A leftist group asserted responsibility Wednesday for bomb and missile strikes on Turkish government and ruling party offices overnight that Turkey’s prime minister said were aimed at derailing a peace process with Kurdish rebels.

The Revolutionary People’s Liberation Party-Front said its members attacked the Justice Ministry and offices of the ruling AK Party with hand grenades and a shoulder-fired missile in the capital, Ankara, late Tuesday.

The blasts preceded an anticipated cease-fire call on Thursday by jailed Kurdish rebel leader Abdullah Ocalan. He has been negotiating with officials to end a 29-year conflict that has killed 40,000 people, limited economic growth and undermined Turkey’s bid for E.U. membership.

Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan vowed to press peace efforts: “These attacks . . . show how correct a path we are on.”

— Reuters

Al-Qaeda-linked site:
Frenchman executed

A French hostage was executed by al-Qaeda’s North African branch in retaliation for France’s military intervention in northern Mali, according to an announcement on a Mauritania-based Web site that is often used by the Islamist extremist group.

In Paris, a Foreign Ministry official said the government is investigating.

The Nouakchott Information Agency announced the death of Philippe Verdon in an article published late Tuesday, quoting a purported spokesman for al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb. The spokesman warned that other French hostages held in the region could face the same fate.

— Associated Press

Pakistan sets May 11 election date: Pakistan will hold parliamentary elections on May 11, a presidential spokesman said, in a vote expected to produce the country’s first transition from one civilian government to another. The Parliament completed its term Saturday, making it the first democratically chosen body to finish a full five-year term since Pakistan gained independence from Britain in 1947.

Al-Qaeda in Iraq says it carried out deadly attacks: An al-Qaeda in Iraq front group asserted responsibility for bomb attacks that killed 65 people across the country Tuesday, underscoring the group’s potency a decade after the U.S.-led invasion that ousted Saddam Hussein. In a statement posted on a militant Web site, the Islamic State of Iraq said it acted to avenge the executions and “massacres” of Sunni inmates held in Iraqi prisons.

Zimbabwe’s Mugabe seeks papal visit: Zimbabwe’s President Robert Mugabe said he wants Pope Francis to visit Africa because he is “a man of God who will be praying for all of us.” Mugabe attended the pope’s inaugural Mass despite a ban on his traveling to most European countries, imposed to protest his rights record and alleged vote-rigging in violent elections. Vatican officials said no formal invitations were sent for the ceremony.

Boat carrying more than 100 capsizes off Nigeria: At least two people survived after a boat carrying more than 100 capsized off Nigeria, officials said, adding that nine bodies had been found following the incident, believed to have occurred over the weekend about 40 nautical miles from Calabar. They said other survivors could have swum to shore.

— From news services