Car bomb detonated near U.S. consulate

An Afghan governor said Friday that militants had detonated a car bomb about 60 yards from the U.S. consulate in the western city of Herat, wounding seven civilians.

A gunbattle between militants and security forces in the area was still going on Friday morning.

Sayed Fazlullah Wahidi, the governor of Herat province, said it was unclear if any of the militants managed to get inside the compound.

No group claimed responsibility for the attack, but Taliban insurgents have often used combined car bomb and gun assaults against various targets in Afghanistan.

A U.S. Embassy spokesman in Kabul declined to comment.

— Associated Press

Engineers to right wrecked cruise ship

An international team of experts is attempting an unprecedented engineering feat to remove the luxury liner Costa Concordia from outside the harbor of Giglio island, where it has been lying on its side after smashing into a jagged reef.

Assuming seas are calm, the ship will be slowly pulled to the vertical in an hours-long operation so it can be towed to a mainland port and turned into scrap.

Thirty-two people died when the Concordia crashed on the evening of Jan. 13, 2012, as the captain steered the vessel close to Giglio’s rocky coastline.

A 500-member salvage team from 24 nations will be conducting the operation, known in nautical terms as parbuckling.

— Associated Press

State of emergency
gets an extension

Egypt’s interim president on Thursday extended a nationwide state of emergency for two more months, preserving expanded powers for security forces amid a crackdown on supporters of ousted president Mohamed Morsi and increasing violence by Islamic militants.

The nearly month-old state of emergency had been due to expire within days. It was first declared in mid-August after authorities cleared two protest encampments held by Morsi supporters, unleashing violence that eventually left nearly 1,000 dead.

Ever since, a seven-hour nighttime curfew has also been in effect in much of the country. The interim government will decide separately on whether to continue the curfew. Interim Prime Minister Hazem el-Beblawi has said it would probably be eased.

The government also announced new measures aimed at easing an economic crunch, including relief for low-income families from school expenditures and reduced public transportation costs. They also added $3.1 billion in budget support to be spent on infrastructure and job-creation projects.

— Associated Press

Dutch apologize for colonial-era killings

The Netherlands apologized Thursday for mass killings committed by the Dutch military in Indonesia during its former colony’s fight for independence.

“On behalf of the Dutch government, I apologize for these excesses. Today I also apologize to the widows from Bulukumba, Pinrang, Polewali Mandar and Parepare,” Dutch Ambassador Tjeerd de Zwaan said, referring to the districts in South Sulawesi where the Dutch troops waged a counterinsurgency operation from 1946 to 1947.

De Zwaan said his government has agreed to compensate the victims’ widows in Sulawesi and Rawagede, who turned to the Dutch courts seeking retribution. Rawagede, a village in West Java, was the scene of a Dec. 9, 1947, killing of up to 430 boys and men by Dutch troops.

— Associated Press

Ex-CIA officer seeks pardon in kidnapping case: A former CIA base chief in Milan has asked Italy’s president for a pardon of his conviction in absentia for kidnapping a terrorism suspect as part of the CIA’s extraordinary rendition program, apologizing for the strain the case has put on U.S.-Italy relations and citing Italy’s pardon of another American convicted in the case. “I never intended to disrespect Italy’s sovereignty — quite to the contrary,” Robert Seldon Lady wrote in the letter. President Giorgio Napolitano’s office said it had been forwarded to Italy’s office for judicial affairs.

Japan protests French Fukushima cartoon: Japan lodged a protest against a French newspaper for printing cartoons that parodied Tokyo’s successful bid to host the 2020 Olympics, including one that showed sumo wrestlers, each with an extra arm and leg, grappling in front of the damaged Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant.

264 arrested in Chile protests: Police said Thursday that they arrested 264 people and that 42 officers were wounded during a night of violence in the capital, Santiago, on the anniversary of Chile’s 1973 coup.

— From news services