Attacks kill scores, most in Shiite areas

Car bomb blasts and other explosions tore through Shiite areas across Baghdad during the morning rush hour Wednesday in a day of violence that left at least 80 dead, intensifying worries about Iraq’s ability to tame the spiraling mayhem gripping the country.

Most of Wednesday’s attacks happened within minutes of each other as people headed to work or were shopping early in the day.

Insurgents unleashed suicide bombers, explosives-laden cars and other bombs that targeted parking lots, outdoor markets and restaurants in predominantly Shiite neighborhoods of Baghdad, officials said. A military convoy was hit south of the capital.

The northern neighborhood of Kazimiyah, home to a prominent Shiite shrine, was among the worst hit. Two bombs went off in a parking lot, then a suicide car bomber struck onlookers. Police said 10 people were killed.

In one particularly brutal attack, a Shiite family was shot dead at home in the largely Sunni town of Latifiyah, about 20 miles south of Baghdad. Four children, ages 8 to 16, were killed with their parents and an uncle, police said.

In the only attack apparently targeting Sunnis, a car bomb exploded late Wednesday as worshipers left a mosque in Baghdad’s western Yarmouk neighborhood, killing four.

— Associated Press

Taliban repulsed in raid on eastern base

Taliban fighters killed at least seven Afghans and wounded 10 Polish soldiers in a repelled assault Wednesday on a base in eastern Afghanistan that hosts troops from the United States and Poland, officials said.

A total of 19 people were killed and 63 were wounded in the base assault and in three other attacks across the country as the insurgents ramp up their campaign against the international coalition and the Afghan government.

Poland’s Defense Ministry said 10 insurgents also were killed in the attack in the eastern city of Ghazni. The Taliban later asserted responsibility for the assault in an e-mail to journalists.

— Associated Press

Boy’s eyes gouged out; woman sought

Police in China’s northern Shanxi province launched a massive search Wednesday for a woman accused of gouging out the eyes of a 6-year-old boy, offering a $16,000 reward for her capture.

Police did not say whether they had identified a suspect. The boy said only that a woman grabbed him on a path Saturday before attacking him and that she spoke with an accent from outside the area. State media said the boy was recovering in a hospital but had lost his sight permanently.

Police said that the boy’s eyeballs were found at the scene and that the corneas had not been
removed, countering speculation that organ trafficking was a motive.

— Associated Press

U.N. reports peacekeeper killed in eastern Congo: The United Nations says one of its peacekeepers has been killed and three wounded in ongoing battles in eastern Congo. The nationality of the slain U.N. peacekeeper was not immediately known. Earlier this year, the U.N. Security Council authorized a special intervention brigade to join Congolese troops on the front line and fight rebels as part of their broader mandate to protect civilians. On Wednesday, U.N. helicopters pounded rebel positions just north of the provincial capital
of Goma.

Nigerians charged with aiding Iran militant cell: Nigeria charged two of its citizens with assisting an unnamed Iranian militant cell in planning possible attacks on Israeli targets, alleging that one had traveled to Tehran and Dubai to receive cash and had known about spying on Israeli interests. The secret service arrested Abdullahi Mustapha Berende and Saheed Oluremi Adewumi, plus one other Ni­ger­ian, in February. Nigerian authorities have voiced concern about an apparent surge in interest in the West African country among Shiite Muslim militant groups with links to Iran or Lebanon.

Painter who satirized Putin flees Russia: The director of St. Petersburg’s Museum of Power says an artist whose paintings depicted Russian President Vladimir Putin and Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev in women’s undergarments has fled to France and plans to request asylum there. Authorities removed four of Konstantin Altunin’s satirical depictions of Russian politicians from the museum Monday and shut down the exhibition.

China to send lander to moon by year’s end: China said it will launch its first unmanned lunar lander by the end of this year, complete with a radio-controlled rover to transmit images and dig into the moon’s surface to test samples. The Chang’e 3 lander has officially moved from the design to the launch stage, the State Administration of Science, Technology and Industry for National Defense said.

— From news services