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IRAN

UN reports increased crackdown, executions

GENEVA | Iran has intensified its crackdown on opponents as well as executions of drug traffickers, political prisoners and juvenile criminals, the United Nations said Monday.

U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon also voiced concern about floggings, amputations and the continued sentencing of men and women to death by stoning for adultery.

Journalists, bloggers and lawyers have been arrested or had their work impeded, and allegations of torture and unfair trials are rife, Mr. Ban said in a report to the Human Rights Council.

AFGHANISTAN

Suicide bomber kills 35 at recruiting center

KABUL | A suicide bomber posing as an army volunteer blew himself up outside a military recruiting center in northern Afghanistan on Monday, killing at least 35 people and escalating the insurgent campaign to scare young Afghans away from military service.

It was the second deadly attack on the center in three months, but the crowd of young men lined up for service were among many Afghans eager for a rare steady paycheck despite the danger from terrorists targeting security forces, recruiting centers and government officials

Four children were among the dead, and at least 42 people were wounded, provincial officials said.

GREECE

Police find weapons, arrest suspected rebels

ATHENS | Greek police arrested six people suspected of belonging to a guerrilla group and taking part in bomb attacks after a search of their apartments Monday turned up guns, rifles and bullets.

About 30 suspected members of leftist groups have been arrested in the past two years as authorities try to stem a string of attacks that have rocked Greece since riots paralyzed Athens in December 2008.

"Five men and one woman were arrested for participating in a terrorist group," a police official said.

Authorities confiscated seven handguns, three assault rifles, bullets, wigs and police uniforms in the raids.

SYRIA

Political prisoner jailed for criticizing Iran

BEIRUT, Lebanon | A Syrian military court sentenced a prominent political prisoner to 18 months in jail for criticizing Syrian ties with Iran, a human rights group said Monday.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said writer Ali Abdallah, 60, was sentenced Sunday. He was due for release last June, after serving a 30-month sentence for trying to revive the Damascus Declaration, a rights movement named for a 2005 document signed by opposition figures.

UNITED KINGDOM

Dickens 'workhouse' gets historic status

LONDON | The British government announced Monday that it has given protected status to a former workhouse thought to have inspired Charles Dickens' "Oliver Twist," a move that should save the building from demolition.

Heritage Minister John Penrose said the austere Georgian edifice was "an eloquent reminder of one of the grimmer aspects of London's 18th-century social history."

He said the building had been given Grade II status, meaning it can't be demolished and any redevelopment must take account of its "special architectural and historic interest."

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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