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World Briefs

- - Sunday, August 14, 2011

PAKISTAN

Police don't know who kidnapped American

ISLAMABAD — Authorities were still searching Sunday for clues about who kidnapped an American in Pakistan but came up with no leads after questioning the guards at his house when he was abducted, police said Sunday.

Gunmen snatched development expert Warren Weinstein before dawn Saturday after tricking his guards and breaking into his house in the eastern city of Lahore. The brazen raid heightened fears among aid workers, diplomats and other foreigners already worried about Islamic militancy and anti-U.S. sentiment in Pakistan.

Mr. Weinstein is the Pakistan country director for J.E. Austin Associates, a development contractor that has received millions of dollars from the aid arm of the U.S. government, according to a profile on LinkedIn, a networking website. He had told his staff that would be wrapping up his latest project and moving out of Pakistan by Monday, just a couple days after he was kidnapped.

Police were hoping the guards could shed some light on who targeted Mr. Weinstein but came up empty-handed, said Shoaib Khurram, a senior police official in Lahore.

ALGERIA

Suicide bomber attacks police station

ALGIERS — A suicide bomber crashed a small truck apparently laden with explosives into a police station in the capital of the Kabylie region east of Algiers early Sunday, injuring at least 29 people.

The official APS news agency, citing security officials, said 15 officers and 14 civilians were injured when the vehicle crashed into the main entrance of the Tizi Ouzou police station at 4 a.m.

No one immediately claimed responsibility for the attack. However, Kabylie, the Berber capital, is the stronghold of al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb.

A police station across town was attacked by a suicide bomber in August 2008, killing two officers.

The verdant region of mountains and valleys has become the base for the al Qaeda affiliate that sprang from an Algerian insurgency movement in late 2006.

VIETNAM

Vietnamese officials visit U.S. aircraft carrier

ABOARD THE USS GEORGE WASHINGTON — Less than a week after China launched its first aircraft carrier, the U.S. showed off its own big-boy supercarrier to former enemy Vietnam - one of several smaller Asian nations with jittery nerves amid Beijing's burgeoning maritime ambitions.

A delegation of Vietnamese military and government officials was treated to a tour aboard the sprawling USS George Washington nuclear carrier this weekend off the country's southern coast, once home to the U.S.-backed capital of South Vietnam during the brutal Vietnam War.

It's the second such visit to the U.S. Navy's hulking carrier in as many years and a symbol of the former foes' warming military ties.

But Saturday's visit also came amid heated tensions between China and its Asian neighbors. Hanoi's relations with Beijing hit a low point this summer after weeks of squabbling over disputed territory in the South China Sea - where the U.S. carrier cruised under blue skies about 140 miles off the coast.

On Wednesday, China launched its first carrier on a test run. The refurbished former Soviet vessel, once named the Varyag, was rebuilt over about a decade from a stripped-down hull. Beijing has said it plans to use the carrier for research and training, which could lead to the buildup of more like it in its own shipyards.

CUBA

Transgender wedding shows shifting attitudes

HAVANA — A gay man and a woman whose sex-change operation was paid for by the state tied the knot Saturday in a first-of-its-kind wedding for Cuba, a sign of how much the country's attitude toward sexuality has changed since gays and transsexuals suffered persecution in the early years after the revolution.

Bride Wendy Iriepa, 37, arrived at a Havana wedding hall in the afternoon in a vintage Ford convertible and a full white wedding gown, flowers in her hair and holding a rainbow flag. Neighborhood residents came out of their homes to gawk at the wedding party and the journalists mobbing the car.

"This is the first wedding between a transsexual woman and a gay man," said the 31-year-old groom, Ignacio Estrada. "We celebrate it at the top of our voices and affirm that this is a step forward for the gay community in Cuba."

Inside, a public notary joined them in a brief civil ceremony, and the newlyweds kissed to cheers from friends and family.

Gay marriage is not legal in Cuba, and Saturday's wedding does nothing to change that since Mrs. Iriepa, born Alexis, is a woman in the eyes of the law.

Mrs. Iriepa had sex-change surgery in 2007 as part of a pilot program that began in earnest the following year and made gender-reassignment procedures part of the island's universal health care system. One other transgender woman married many years ago, but Mrs. Iriepa is the first to do so under the new policy.