Four Iraqi children killed in Baghdad bombing

Thursday, February 16, 2006

BAGHDAD, Iraq -- A bomb exploded Wednesday on a central Baghdad street, killing three girls and a boy walking to school, police and relatives said. The dead included two sisters and their brother. At least 14 other people, including six policemen, died in car bombings and shootings across the Iraqi capital. The children were killed when a bomb exploded in central Baghdad's bustling Fadel area near a camera shop that also sold alcohol, police Lt. Ali Mittab said. The target was unclear but religious extremists often attack stores that sell alcohol or DVDs deemed pornographic. Police said the children were between the ages of 10 and 14 and included two sons and a daughter of Jamil Mohammed, a poor vendor who works in a nearby public market.

Smashed ballot boxes, bags found in Haiti dump

PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti -- U.N. police went to a garbage dump near the Haitian capital Wednesday to recover election materials, including numbered bags apparently used to carry results and tally sheets, amid charges that last week's presidential election was marred by fraud. Associated Press reporters saw hundreds of empty ballot boxes, at least one vote tally sheet and several empty bags -- numbered and signed by the heads of polling stations -- strewn across the dump five miles north of Port-au-Prince. Leading candidate Rene Preval has alleged that the Feb. 7 vote was marred by "massive fraud or gross errors" designed to leave him just short of the majority needed for a first-round victory. Preliminary results from the first election since Jean-Bertrand Aristide's ouster two years ago showed Preval, a former Aristide protege, with a sizable lead. A wave of chaotic protests by Preval supporters sent foreign diplomats scrambling for peaceful solutions.

Three killed in third day of protests in Pakistan

PESHAWAR, Pakistan -- A demonstration by more than 70,000 people angered by the Prophet Muhammad cartoons turned into a riot Wednesday, with armed protesters firing on police and youths torching foreign-owned businesses. Three people were killed, including an 8-year-old boy. It was the third straight day of violent protests in Pakistan. Government and intelligence officials are suggesting some of the riots may have been orchestrated by Islamic extremists who want to exploit the rage over the prophet drawings to undermine the government of President Gen. Pervez Musharraf, a close ally of the United States.

New photos released of Abu Ghraib prison abuse

BAGHDAD, Iraq -- New images showing Iraqis abused by U.S. guards at Abu Ghraib prison three years ago threatened Wednesday to inflame public anger already running high over footage of British soldiers beating youths in southern Iraq. Images of naked prisoners, some bloodied and lying on the floor, were taken about the same time as earlier photos that triggered a worldwide scandal and led to military trials and prison sentences for several lower-ranking American soldiers. Many of the images broadcast by Australia's Special Broadcasting Service, including some that appear to show corpses, were more graphic than those previously published. One of the video clips depicted a group of naked men with bags over their heads standing together and masturbating. The network said they were forced to participate. Al-Jazeera TV later aired some of the pictures in the Middle East, at a time of widespread anti-Western protests over published caricatures of the Prophet Muhammad.

Chinese party veterans criticize media crackdown

BEIJING -- A group of Chinese Communist Party elders and scholars have issued a joint letter criticizing a government campaign to tighten media controls and expressed support for a newspaper supplement that was shut down after reporting on sensitive issues. The startling letter issued by 13 retired officials, academics and senior media officials called on President Hu Jintao's government to stop what it called unconstitutional and illegal assaults on freedom of speech. Such an outcry from within official ranks reflects growing public frustration at media controls. It was circulated this week to foreign reporters in Beijing. Hu's government has shut down newspapers, dismissed editors and arrested journalists in a campaign to tighten control over the information reaching China's public. Targets of the crackdown have included newspapers that are known for outspoken coverage of corruption, environmental problems and rural poverty. In the latest incident, the Communist Party Propaganda Department ordered the closure of Freezing Point, a weekly supplement to the China Youth Daily newspaper, published by the party's Communist Youth League.

Two Afghan intelligence agents abducted, killed

KABUL, Afghanistan -- Suspected Taliban rebels abducted two Afghan intelligence agents in a western province and killed them, dumping their nearly decapitated bodies in the desert, a top official said Wednesday. The men were kidnapped while riding motorbikes in the countryside in Farah province Monday and their bodies were discovered a day later, provincial Gov. Hazatullah Wasefi said. The pair worked as intelligence agents for the province's security forces, gathering information on the Taliban and other militant groups, he said. A manhunt has been launched for those behind the killings but no one has been arrested, Wasefi said.

-- From wire reports

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