World briefs 9/18/06

Monday, September 18, 2006

Muslim/papal uproar affects Mideast Christians

CAIRO, Egypt -- Christians in the Middle East are growing uneasy over the widespread Muslim anger at Pope Benedict XVI, saying they increasingly worry about growing divisions between the two faiths. The region's minority Christian communities generally live in peace with their Muslim neighbors, but their relations are often strained and the uproar over the pope has brought some violence -- attacks on at least seven churches in the Palestinian territories over the weekend. "I wish the Catholic pope had considered the reaction to his remarks," the head of the Egypt's Coptic Orthodox Church, Pope Shenouda III, told journalists Sunday. "Being enthusiastic about one's religion shouldn't lead to judging other peoples' religions."

At least 5 dead or missing as typhoon hits Japan

TOKYO -- A strong typhoon swept toward southwestern Japan with fierce winds and heavy rains Sunday, leaving at least five people dead or missing and injuring more than 100. More than 300 flights were grounded, cars were blown over and strong winds were suspected in an express train derailment that injured five people, local media reported. Thousands of people, meanwhile, sought refuge in public shelters. Although Typhoon Shanshan had weakened overnight, it was still lashing the region with maximum sustained winds of 100 mph. It was forecast to continue churning northeast toward Japan's southwestern island of Kyushu, Japan's Meteorological Agency said.

Bombings in Iraq's north kill two dozen, injure 84

KIRKUK, Iraq -- Six bombs killed 24 people and wounded 84 Sunday in Kirkuk, a northern oil city the Kurds want added to their self-ruled region. The tortured bodies of 15 people were found elsewhere, probable victims of worsening sectarian reprisals, and the U.S. military announced that a sailor assigned to the Marines died Saturday from wounds suffered during combat in Iraq's restive Anbar province. A joint U.S.-Iraqi operation in Diwaniyah rounded up 32 people suspected of terrorism. The city, 80 miles south of Baghdad, was the site of a recent clash between the mostly Shiite Iraqi army and a Shiite militia in fighting that killed 23 soldiers and 50 other people.

General: Afghan offensive successfully completed

KABUL, Afghanistan -- NATO said Sunday that its two-week offensive in south Afghanistan was a "significant success" that had driven Taliban insurgents from their positions and opened the way for development. But violence was unabated, with suicide bombers killing two civilians and wounding six soldiers. Militants also took control of a district in the west of the country after chasing away the police, an official said, in an apparent attempt to open a new front. The developments came as the country is going through its bloodiest phase since the U.S.-led invasion ousted the hard-line Taliban from power in 2001.

-- From wire reports

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