AFGHANISTAN
Bombs kill 9 in elite area near Kandahar

Two bombs hidden in a motorcycle and a car exploded Friday evening inside an elite gated community linked to the family of Afghan President Hamid Karzai, killing at least nine people and wounding more than 70 near the southern city of Kandahar, an official said.

The blasts happened inside Aino Mina, a housing complex on the northern outskirts of the city that was developed in part by Mahmoud Karzai, the president’s younger brother.

No one immediately asserted responsibility for the attack, but striking inside a powerful symbol of wealth and influence would be a publicity coup for the Taliban insurgency.

The car bomb and the motorcycle were remotely detonated within minutes of each other while parked next to a restaurant area where families were dining, officials said.

Aino Mina is home to thousands of Afghan government officials, businessmen and other wealthy citizens.

— Associated Press

european union
Survey reveals fear among gays in bloc

Across Europe, gay couples are scared of publicly engaging in even the most basic expression of their affection: holding hands.

A European Union survey released on Friday, the International Day against Homophobia, showed that many members of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community live in fear and conceal their sexual identity. The survey was the largest ever conducted by the E.U. of hate crime and discrimination targeting the community in the 27-nation bloc and Croatia.

Two-thirds of the 93,000 people who filled in the anonymous online questionnaire said they were afraid of holding hands in public with a same-sex partner; the figure rose to 75 percent for gay and bisexual men.

More than 80 percent of the group said they had been verbally abused or bullied at school, nearly one in five feel discriminated against when seeking work, and a quarter have been attacked or threatened in recent years.

— Associated Press

TUNISIA
Ultraconservatives’ gathering banned

Tunisia’s Interior Ministry on Friday banned a conference by the North African country’s main ultraconservative Islamic group, setting up the possibility of a confrontation over the weekend.

The ministry statement said Ansar al-Sharia’s annual conference, to be held in Tunisia’s holy city of Kairouan, was not in compliance with the laws governing assembly and was a threat to public order.

The Salafist group’s leader, Seifallah Ben Hassine, is wanted in connection with an attack by a mob on the U.S. Embassy in Tunisia last September. Salafist groups have also been accused of attacking cinemas, art galleries and police stations.

— Associated Press

Egyptian police close Gaza border in protest: Dozens of border policemen forced the closure of Egypt’s main crossing point into the Gaza Strip to protest the abduction of their colleagues by suspected militants a day earlier, underscoring the continuing crisis of authority in the country. At the Rafah terminal, one of the protesting policemen said his group plans to keep the crossing closed until their colleagues are freed.

Blasts at two Pakistani mosques kill 15: Bombs that exploded outside two mosques in a village in northwestern Pakistan killed at least 15 people, underlining the challenge of militant violence for a government set to take power under the leadership of Prime Minister-elect Nawaz Sharif. No one has asserted responsibility for the blasts in a village in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province, but suspicion will likely fall on the Pakistani Taliban.

— From news services