- - Sunday, April 3, 2011

CHINA

Well-known artist blocked from boarding plane

BEIJING | China blocked one of its most famous contemporary artists from taking a flight to Hong Kong on Sunday and police later raided his Beijing studio, the man’s assistant said.

The artist, Ai Weiwei, is an outspoken government critic and has been barred from going abroad before.

China has launched a massive crackdown on lawyers, writers and activists, arresting and detaining dozens since February, when online calls for protests similar to those in the Middle East and North Africa began to circulate. Mr. Ai has been keeping an informal tally of those detentions on Twitter, where he has more than 70,000 followers.

PAKISTAN

Suicide bombers kill 42 at shrine

MULTAN | A pair of suicide bombers struck a shrine in Pakistan on Sunday, killing 42 people gathered there and pressing a campaign of attacks against places of worship that extremists consider un-Islamic, officials said.

The practice of praying, singing and meditating at the shrines of holy men is widespread and much loved across Pakistan, but extremists consider it a dangerous deviation from the austere Islam they espouse.

Several thousand people were attending celebrations to mark the anniversary of the Sakhi Sarwar shrine in the Dera Ghazi Khan district of Punjab province when the bombers struck crowds outside the complex.

A stampede followed the bombings, but it was unclear whether that caused any casualties. An official said 42 people were killed and 100 wounded.

NIGERIA

Anger, confusion prevail over election delay

LAGOS | Only days before the first of Nigeria’s three April elections, the man in charge of the polls assured the oil-rich nation it was “well-prepared and well-positioned” to avoid the missteps of the young democracy’s past.

Now, Independent National Electoral Commission Chairman Attahiru Jega faces increasing criticism after delaying countrywide elections for the legislature by two days after polling sites experienced problems Saturday.

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