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AFGHANISTAN

Bomb attack in south kills 3 police

KABUL | A roadside bomb targeting the car of a district police chief killed three police officers Thursday in southern Afghanistan, where militants have stepped up attacks on government workers in response to increased pressure from international troops.

Provincial government spokesman Mohammad Jan Rasoolyar said the police chief was not in the vehicle when it was hit by the blast in the Shinkai district of Zabul province.

Also Thursday, militants shot and killed a government official in charge of the water supply in Dand district of Kandahar province as he was walking near his home, district chief Ahmadullah Nazak said.

Afghan and coalition forces are in the third phase of an operation in and around the city of Kandahar, the birthplace of the Taliban. Afghan Defense Ministry spokesman Gen. Mohammad Zahir Azimi said the operation — designed to destabilize Taliban strongholds and increase security, paving the way for improved governance and long-term development — was nearly over.

“We are clearing the area of the enemy,” Mr. Azimi said. “We are hopeful that in the coming weeks, the operation will come to an end. It is very difficult to say exactly when.”

RUSSIA

Bears dig up graves for food

MOSCOW | Famished bears in northern Russia have resorted to digging up graves in cemeteries — and reportedly eating at least one body — after a scorching summer destroyed their natural food sources of forest berries and mushrooms, officials said Thursday.

The brown bears’ grisly habit is forcing locals in the Arctic Circle region of Komi to mount 24-hour patrols, protecting their families and livestock with the concern that the bears might get a taste for fresher human flesh, said Pyotr Lobanov, a regional spokesman for the Emergencies Ministry.

Last summer was Russia’s hottest on record, with raging forest fires and droughts wiping out woodland and crops, forcing the bears to forage closer and closer to human settlements as the winter hibernation period approaches.

A top-selling daily newspaper, Moskovsky Komsomolets, reported that one body was devoured in the village of Verkhnyaya Chova over the weekend. Two visitors to the cemetery shrieked at the shocking sight of the animal tearing into half-decomposed flesh, scaring the bear away, the paper reported.

Domestic pets, goats and cattle have fallen prey to the bears since the summer, prompting unsightly fences to go up around farmland and more thoughtful disposal of garbage.

Komi, about the size of California, with the climate of Alaska, carries the nickname “Bear’s Corner” because, covered 70 percent by coniferous Taiga woodland, it is ideal bear habitat.

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