Parliament redefines armed forces’ duties

Turkey’s parliament has amended an internal armed forces’ regulation long relied on by the country’s once-powerful generals as grounds for intervening in politics, the state-run Anadolu Agency reported Saturday, in a move that further strips the military of its political influence.

The military overthrew four governments between 1960 and 1997 and issued a warning against Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s Islamic-rooted government as recently as 2007.

The generals have in the past pointed to a military regulation stipulating that the army’s duty is to watch over and protect the Turkish republic as justification for army takeovers or stepping in whenever they felt uneasy over civilian leaders’ policies.

In a midnight vote, legislators voted to redefine the military’s duty as “defending the Turkish homeland against external threats and dangers, and maintaining and strengthening military powers to ensure deterrence.”

They also emphasized the Turkish army’s role in international peacekeeping missions.

Erdogan’s party proposed the amendment after a spate of anti-government protests in June.

— Associated Press

21 die in bombings at two Sunni mosques

Bombs exploded outside two Sunni mosques in Baghdad late Saturday, killing at least 21 people as they left prayers and extending a wave of violence that has rippled across Iraq since the start of the holy month of Ramadan on Wednesday, authorities said.

A separate attack at a funeral northeast of the capital killed at least three others.

Police said the first Baghdad blast occurred about 10 p.m. near the gate of the Khalid bin al-Walid mosque in the capital’s southern Dora neighborhood, a largely Sunni Muslim area. At least 16 people were killed. Soon after, a car bomb exploded at the Mullah Huwaish mosque, in the Hay al-Jami’a area in western Baghdad, killing five.

Iraq is weathering its worst eruption of violence in half a decade, with more than 2,600 people killed since the start of April.

The pace of the bloodshed has picked up since Ramadan began, including a suicide bombing at a coffee shop in the northern city of Kirkuk late Friday that killed 39 people.

— Associated Press

Bhutan opposition wins elections: Bhutan’s main opposition People’s Democratic Party won a majority of seats in parliamentary elections Saturday, according to results posted on the elections commission’s official Web site. The PDP has criticized the government for the recent deterioration of ties with neighboring India, campaigning heavily on the issue. The elections were the second since 2008, when King Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuck voluntarily reduced the monarchy’s role in running the country.

7 U.N. peacekeepers killed in Sudan: Gunmen ambushed a U.N. peacekeeping team in Sudan’s western region of Darfur, killing seven and wounding 17 in the deadliest single attack on the international force in the country. No group immediately claimed responsibility for the assault, which occurred 15 miles west of the town of Khor Abeche.

China scraps uranium project after protest: Local authorities in a southern Chinese city abandoned a plan to build a uranium-processing plant one day after hundreds of local residents protested against it because of safety concerns. The $6 billion project, proposed for the city of Heshan in Guangdong province, was part of national efforts to reduce China’s reliance on coal and boost the use of clean energy.

Typhoon hits China after killing 1 in Taiwan: A powerful typhoon surged across northern Taiwan on Saturday, killing at least one person before moving to southeastern China and forcing the evacuation of 300,000 people from the heavily populated coastal province of Fujian. Typhoon Soulik struck Taiwan with 101 mph winds.

Track fault cited in French derailment: The train derailment that killed at least six people in central France on Friday may have been caused by a loose steel component at a junction, French train operator SNCF said. SNCF said it would immediately start checking some 5,000 similar junctions throughout France’s rail network.

— From news services