IRAQ
Violence sparked by raid enters 2nd day

More than 30 people were killed in gun battles between Iraqi forces and militants on Wednesday, a day after a raid on a Sunni Muslim protest camp ignited the fiercest clashes since American troops left the country.

The second day of fighting threatened to deepen sectarian rifts in Iraq, where relations between Shiites and Sunnis remain tense just a few years after inter-communal slaughter pushed the country close to civil war.

The clashes between gunmen and troops were the bloodiest since thousands of Sunnis started protests in December to demand an end to what they see as marginalization of their sect by Shiite Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki.

On Tuesday, troops stormed one of the Sunni protest camps and more than 50 people were killed in the ensuing clashes, which spread beyond the town of Hawija, 150 miles north of Baghdad, to other areas.

Sporadic battles continued Wednesday, and hard-line tribal leaders warned that protests could turn into open revolt against the Baghdad government even as Sunni moderates and foreign envoys called for restraint.

— Reuters

CHINA
Xinjiang officials report deadly clashes

In the deadliest ethnic violence in China since 2009, 21 people were killed in clashes Tuesday between police and Uighur residents of Kashgar, in the restive western region of Xinjiang, the local government said Wednesday.

Among the dead were 15 police and security officers and six people described as “mobsters” by state media. “A preliminary investigation showed the mobster gang was planning to launch terrorist activities,” the report said.

Kashgar, near China’s borders with Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan, has been a frequent site of violence between the dominant ethnic Han Chinese and the Uighurs, a Muslim minority.

— Los Angeles Times

H7N9 case in Taiwan is first off mainland

A 53-year-old Taiwan businessman has contracted the H7N9 strain of bird flu while traveling in China, Taiwan’s Health Department said Wednesday, the first reported case outside mainland China. The man was hospitalized after becoming ill three days after returning from Suzhou on April 9 and was in serious condition, officials said.

Also Wednesday, a World Health Organization expert said the new bird flu strain , which has killed 22 people and infected 108 others in China since it was detected in March, is “one of the most lethal” of its kind and transmits more easily to humans than another strain that has killed hundreds since 2003.

— Reuters

NORTH KOREA
Dempsey: Beijing shares U.S. concerns

Gen. Martin Dempsey, chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff, said in Beijing on Wednesday that he was ending a visit to China with assurances that Chinese leaders are as concerned as the United States is about threats by North Korea and are working to head off further provocations.

Chinese officials, however, did not specify how they were conveying that message to Pyongyang, Dempsey acknowledged at a briefing with reporters after meetings with top Chinese military leaders.

“I leave here believing that they’re very interested in trying to contribute to stability on the [Korean] peninsula,” said Dempsey, who is to meet with Japanese military leaders in Tokyo on Thursday.

— William Wan

Egypt advances judiciary law: Egypt’s Islamist-led parliament pushed ahead with a law that could force into retirement many of the nation’s most senior judges, despite an uproar by the judiciary over fears the president’s allies want to control the courts. The Judges’ Club, an organization representing Egypt’s judges, warned they would not recognize the law.

— From news services