- The Washington Times - Sunday, July 27, 2008

INDIA

29 dead, 88 hurt in series of blasts

AHMADABAD | Bombs exploded Saturday near a busy market and a hospital in a western Indian city, killing 29 people and injuring 88 a day after deadly blasts struck the southern technology hub of Bangalore.

There was no immediate claim of responsibility, and it was not clear whether the bombings were connected to those a day earlier. But suspicion for both quickly fell on Muslim militants who were blamed for previous attacks, including the 2006 bombings that ripped through Bombay’s commuter rail network and killed nearly 200.

At least 16 bombs exploded Saturday evening in several crowded neighborhoods of Ahmadabad, a historic city that in 2002 was the scene of some of the worst rioting between India’s Hindu majority and its Muslim minority.

IRAQ

Election-law changes due in two days

BAGHDAD | Iraqi politicians have 48 hours to offer changes to a draft provincial elections law that has left Kurdish leaders at odds with the central government and delayed local elections planned for this fall, officials said Saturday.

The standoff is over how to allocate local council seats in the disputed region of Kirkuk, which Kurds claim as part of their historical homeland.

Iraq’s Shi’ite, Sunni and Kurdish politicians are studying objections to the law and have two days to offer possible changes, said Khalid al-Attiyah, a Shi’ite deputy parliament speaker. The negotiations aim to clear the way for the elections - which are strongly supported by Washington as a step toward political reconciliation.

AFGHANISTAN

4 civilians killed at checkpoint

KABUL | NATO forces on Saturday fired at a vehicle that wouldn’t stop at a checkpoint in Afghanistan’s volatile south, killing four civilians and wounding three others, the alliance said.

Civilian casualties has been a sore point between Afghanistan’s government and international forces that operate here.

Afghan President Hamid Karzai has implored NATO and U.S.-led coalition troops to avoid killing civilians, whose deaths undermine support for his already weak central government.

IRAQ

Envoys to negotiate over Olympics

BAGHDAD | An Iraqi delegation headed to Switzerland on Saturday for talks with the International Olympic Committee (IOC) over a ban on Iraq competing in the Beijing Games, government officials said.

The Iraqi envoys, including the government’s main spokesman, expect to hold meetings with IOC representatives as early as Monday, two sports officials said on the condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak publicly on the issue. The IOC had no immediate comment.

Earlier this week, the IOC upheld its ban on Iraq for what it calls political inference in Olympic affairs.

IRELAND

Voters oppose second referendum

DUBLIN | Nearly three-quarters of Irish voters are against holding a second referendum on the European Union’s key reform treaty, according to an opinion poll out Sunday.

Ireland - the only European Union state to hold a referendum on the Lisbon Treaty, which has to be ratified by all 27 member states to take effect - rejected the text with a stunning 53.4 percent vote on June 12.

The Red C poll for the London-based Open Europe think tank found that 71 percent oppose a second referendum and 24 percent are in favor.

From wire dispatches and staff reports.

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