Pakistani group blamed for attack

A pair of gunmen stormed a Shiite mosque in a suburb of the Afghan capital, Kabul, early Thursday but were shot dead by Afghan security forces after wounding three worshipers at a pre-dawn service.

Officials of the Afghan intelligence service said the gunmen were members of an extreme Sunni militant group, Lashkar-e-Jhangvi, which is based in Pakistan and has carried out numerous sectarian attacks on Shiite mosques and communities there.

In a statement, the officials said their agency had followed the assailants for hours before the attack. They said the men were heavily armed and were disguised in Afghan police uniforms. In a second statement, they said Pakistani intelligence agencies also were involved in the assault.

Leaders of Lashkar-e-Jhangvi asserted responsibility for an attack on Shiite mourners at a religious ceremony in Kabul in 2011 in which more than 50 people were killed. No group immediately said it had carried out Thursday’s attack.

By late Thursday, Pakistani officials had not commented on the incident.

— Sayed Salahuddin

Church: Envoy not accused of sex abuse

The Vatican’s recently ousted ambassador to the Dominican Republic has not been accused of child sex abuse, Catholic Church officials in the country said Thursday, while refusing to shed any light on the envoy’s sudden ouster.

Amid an outcry in the largely Catholic country, and a newly opened investigation by the attorney general’s office, senior church leaders portrayed the removal of Archbishop Jozef Wesolowski on Aug. 21 as an administrative matter.

“Church authorities are always evaluating on an annual basis every priest. It doesn’t necessarily mean it’s a criminal matter,” a spokesman said at a news conference.

Pedro Joaquin Dominguez, general secretary of the Dominican bishop’s conference, said there have been no accusations of child sex abuse against Wesolowski, as the country’s attorney general had suggested Wednesday.

A Vatican spokesman, the Rev. Federico Lombardi, confirmed without elaborating that Wesolowski had been removed from his post and that the church is investigating him.

— Associated Press

Officials: 400 million can’t speak Mandarin

As many as 400 million Chinese are unable to speak the national language, Mandarin, state media said Thursday as the government launched another push for linguistic unity.

China’s ruling Communist Party has promoted Mandarin for decades to unite a nation with thousands of often mutually unintelligible dialects and numerous minority languages, but has been hampered by the country’s size and lack of investment in education, especially in poor rural areas.

An Education Ministry spokeswoman said that only 70 percent of the country of 1.3 billion could speak Mandarin, many of them poorly, and that the remaining 30 percent could not speak it at all, the Xinhua News Agency reported.

Tibetans have protested against having to use Mandarin in schools, and residents of the southern city of Guangzhou have voiced fears that the authorities were trying to marginalize Cantonese.

— Reuters

6 indicted in death of Chinese detainee: Chinese prosecutors have indicted six men in the death of a state industry executive during questioning, in a case that points to abuses during internal investigations by the Communist Party, according to state media. The indictment describes how 42-year-old Yu Qiyi drowned after having his head repeatedly pushed into a bucket of ice water at a detention center run by the party’s Central Commission for Discipline Inspection, an anti-corruption watchdog that critics say operates without legal constraints.

Up to 100 cars crash on bridge in Britain: As many as 100 cars were involved in a traffic accident on a fog-shrouded bridge southeast of London, officials said. Police said there were reports of at least eight serious injuries and 60 minor injuries in the pileup on the New Kingsferry Bridge in Sheppey, in the English county of Kent. The accident began about 7:15 a.m. and continued for 10 minutes as cars and trucks hit one another. Witnesses put visibility at 20 yards.

— From news services