- - Monday, July 26, 2010

IRAQ

Twin car bombs kill 25 in Karbala

BAGHDAD | Two car bombs targeting Shiite pilgrims during a religious festival in the holy city of Karbala killed 25 people Monday, Iraqi police and hospital officials said. Sunni extremists are suspected.

Militants detonated two parked cars filled with explosives about two miles apart as crowds of pilgrims passed by. Police and medical officials in Karbala, 50 miles south of Baghdad, said 68 people were injured in the attacks.

The pilgrims were on their way to Karbala to take part in an important religious holiday, known as Shabaniyah, that attracts devout Shiites from throughout the country.

There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the Monday bombings, but the method is the hallmark of Sunni extremists.

While violence has dropped dramatically in recent years in Iraq, suspected Sunni insurgents regularly target Shiite religious ceremonies and holy places in an attempt to re-ignite sectarian tensions that brought Iraq to the brink of civil war in 2005 and 2007.

SOUTH KOREA

U.S. shows its power with carrier drills

ABOARD THE USS GEORGE WASHINGTON | The East Sea/Sea of Japan off the Korean Peninsula roiled Monday with U.S. and South Korean ships, submarines, fighter jets and helicopters doing high-profile military maneuvers intended to show North Korea that it is being watched.

Military officials said that despite threats of retaliation, North Korea was staying clear. Most of the firepower for the four-day exercises — which North Korea condemns — has been flying off the decks of the USS George Washington, a U.S. supercarrier that can carry up to 70 aircraft and more than 5,000 sailors and aviators.

Washington and Seoul are hoping the drills — and the deployment of the most potent symbol of American military reach in the U.S. Navy — will send a powerful message to North Korea in the aftermath of the March sinking of a South Korean warship that killed 46 sailors. An international investigation determined the ship was sunk by torpedo, likely in a sneak attack by a North Korean submarine.

North Korea — which has denied any connection to the sinking — has threatened to counter the maneuvers with some sort of military show of its own. But on the second day of the maneuvers, scheduled to run through Wednesday, officials said no signs have been seen the North will make good on its saber-rattling rhetoric.

AFRICAN UNION

AU agrees to increase Somalia force

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