World briefs 12/26/07

Turkey: More than 200 rebel targets hit in Iraq

ISTANBUL, Turkey -- Two Turkish airstrikes this month destroyed more than 200 Kurdish rebel targets in the mountains of northern Iraq, killing hundreds of insurgents, the military said Tuesday. Up to 175 rebels were killed Dec. 16 alone, the military said in a statement posted on its Web site. The military said other hideouts were hit in a cross-border airstrike on Saturday, followed by artillery fire. In Iraq, a Kurdish official said information from the rebels cast doubt on Turkey's claims. "These are exaggerated figures," said Mahmoud Uthman, a Kurdish leader and member of parliament. "Most of the villages were abandoned."

2 suicide attacks kill at least 34 across Iraq

BAGHDAD -- Two separate suicide attacks, including one apparently targeting workers in a northern oil hub, killed at least 34 people Tuesday, shattering more than a week of relative calm, local and U.S. military authorities said. A suicide truck bomb exploded outside a residential complex belonging to a state-run oil company in Beiji, home to Iraq's largest refinery, killing 25 people and wounding 80, police and hospital officials said. In Baqouba, 35 miles northeast of Baghdad, 10 people were killed and five people were wounded in a suicide bombing, the U.S. military said.

At least 15 killed in Nepal bridge collapse

KATMANDU, Nepal -- A steel footbridge collapsed Tuesday in western Nepal under the weight of hundreds of people on their way to a fair, plunging scores about 100 feet into icy Himalayan waters. At least 15 were killed and more than 100 were missing and feared dead, officials said. Troops were being rushed to the area to assist with search-and-rescue operations. But with efforts halted by nightfall, hopes were slim of finding more survivors in the fast-flowing mountain river, said Anil Pandey, the top government official in the area. Authorities believe some 500 people traveling to a village fair were crossing the Bheri River on the bridge when its support cables snapped under the weight, Pandey said. "Some of them managed to climb to safety, some fell on the banks, but the ones who plunged in the river are the ones who are still missing," he said.

Raul Castro says brother Fidel getting stronger

HAVANA -- Fidel Castro remains on the mend, gaining weight, exercising twice a day and continuing to help make the Cuban government's top decisions, his brother Raul Castro said. The island's acting president gave the first clues about his brother's health in weeks, saying during a Monday speech that he has a "healthier mentality, full use of his mental faculties with some small physical limitations." At 76, Raul is five years younger than his ailing brother, who has not been seen in public since announcing he had undergone emergency intestinal surgery and was stepping down in favor of a provisional government in July 2006. But the younger Castro said his brother remains a key voice in government and that Communist Party leaders support his re-election to Cuba's parliament, the National Assembly -- a move that could allow Fidel Castro to keep his post as president of the Council of State.

-- From wire reports