15 killed in bombings at checkpoint, funeral

Bombs in Iraq targeting a checkpoint run by government-allied Sunni militiamen and a Shiite tribal leader’s funeral killed at least 15 people on Friday, in the latest strikes by militants seeking to destabilize the country.

The deadliest attack, which killed at least 11, struck the militia checkpoint in the village of Zangoura, near the former insurgent stronghold of Ramadi, 70 miles west of Baghdad, police said.

The checkpoint was manned by members of the Sahwa, a Sunni militia that joined forces with U.S. troops to fight al-Qaeda during the Iraq war. They remain on the Shiite-led central government’s payroll for security forces, making them an occasional target for Sunni insurgents.

In the town of Dujail, 50 miles north of Baghdad, a suicide bomber rammed his explosives-laden car into a tent set up to welcome mourners at the local Shiite tribal leader’s funeral.

Earlier Friday, Iraqi officials raised the death toll from a series of bombings late Thursday that targeted soccer fans watching a Confederations Cup semifinal in cafes in and around Baghdad. They put the number of those killed at 36.

The deadliest attack, which killed 20 people, took place at a large cafe in the city of Baqubah, 35 miles northeast of Baghdad. Others struck cafes in Baghdad and the Shiite town of Jbala, south of the capital.

— Associated Press

Prelate arrested in plot to transfer cash

The Vatican was hit by a new scandal Friday, as Italian police arrested a high-ranking Catholic Church official suspected of plotting to illegally transport 20 million euros — about $26 million — from Switzerland to Italy.

Two other Italian suspects were arrested in the plan involving Monsignor Nunzio Scarano, a former accountant in a Vatican financial department called the Administration of the Patrimony of the Apostolic See.

The three face charges of corruption, fraud and other crimes.

The arrests came two days after Pope Francis named a five-member panel to look into the activities of the Vatican’s secretive bank, the Institute of Religious Works.

Vatican spokesman the Rev. Federico Lombardi confirmed that Scarano had been suspended weeks ago and said the Vatican would offer its “full cooperation” with Italian authorities.

— Deutsche Presse-Agentur

Fresh violence flares in restive Xinjiang

A tense minority region in China’s far west erupted in violence Friday for the second time in three days, just hours after the government called the earlier unrest a “terrorist attack” and raised the death toll to 35.

State media gave few details about Friday’s disturbance, saying it was “a violent attack” that took place on a pedestrian street in Hotan, a city in Xinjiang, a region where China’s minority Uighurs frequently clash with the ethnic Han majority.

A woman reached by phone in Hotan said that young men had rioted on a pedestrian street, setting fires.

— Associated Press

E.U. sets date for Serbian accession talks: European Union leaders agreed to open membership talks with Serbia by January at the latest, in recognition of its efforts to improve relations with breakaway Kosovo — a move seen as a step by the bloc toward embracing once-troubled countries in the Balkans. E.U. leaders also welcomed Croatia’s upcoming accession as the bloc’s 28th member on Monday.

Leftist party leader found slain in Mexico: The leader of Mexico’s main leftist party in the southern state of Oaxaca was found slain little more than a week before local elections, authorities said. The Oaxaca attorney general’s office said the body of Nicolas Estrada Merino was found Thursday in a sugar-cane field near the city of Tuxtepec with three gunshot wounds to the head, and it is investigating the circumstances of his death.

— From news services

Repatriated art objects unveiled in China: China’s National Museum unveiled a pair of Qing dynasty bronzes looted from Beijing more than 150 years ago and returned this year by the family that runs the French luxury-goods conglomerate Kering. The bronzes were among 12 animal heads on an elaborate zodiac fountain and were carried off during the sacking of the old Summer Palace in Beijing by French and British troops in 1860 at the end of the Second Opium War.