- - Thursday, April 19, 2012

IRAQ

BAGHDAD — Bombings struck several areas in Baghdad and to the north Thursday, killing at least 30 people in the first major attacks in Iraq in nearly a month.

The violence stoked fears that insurgents were trying to undermine confidence in the Shiite-led government amid rising sectarian tensions.

In all, officials said extremists launched 12 attacks in the Iraqi capital and in the cities of Kirkuk, Samarra, Baqouba, Dibis and Taji.

Nearly 100 people were wounded in the rapid-fire explosions that unfolded over an hour and 15 minutes. Half of the bombs struck at security forces and government officials - two frequent targets for insurgents still seeking to undermine Iraq’s efforts to normalize after years of war and violence.

There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the attacks, but Baghdad military command spokesman Col. Dhia al-Wakeel said they resembled those carried out by al Qaeda.

UKRAINE

Tymoshenko stands new trial in Ukraine

KIEV — Former Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko was put on trial on new tax-evasion charges Thursday despite widespread concern about her health as a prison inmate.

Mrs. Tymoshenko, the country’s top opposition leader, already is serving a seven-year prison term after being convicted of abuse of office in a case the West has condemned as politically motivated.

Prosecutors also have charged Mrs. Tymoshenko with evading several million dollars in taxes while heading an energy company in the mid-1990s.

She did not appear at the trial in the eastern city of Kharkiv on Thursday because of a severe back problem.

Mrs. Tymoshenko denies all the charges against her and says they are part of a campaign by her longtime foe, President Viktor Yanukovych, to bar her from politics. Mr. Yanukovych narrowly defeated her in 2010 presidential elections.

VENEZUELA

Ex-judge: Officials meddled in cases

CARACAS — A fired judge’s allegations that high-ranking officials in President Hugo Chavez’s government and military manipulate court cases were dismissed Thursday by the country’s foreign minister, who said the ex-judge isn’t credible because he was removed for alleged ties to a prominent drug suspect.

Former Supreme Court Magistrate Eladio Aponte is a fugitive now in the United States and has clear links to drug traffickers, Foreign Minister Nicolas Maduro said a day after a television channel aired an interview in which the judge made his allegations.

Mr. Aponte said in the interview, shown Wednesday night by the television channel SOiTV, that Mr. Chavez’s office and top military officers asked him to be lenient in the case of a lieutenant arrested with a shipment of cocaine.

He said those who contacted him included then-Defense Minister Raul Baduel and intelligence chiefs Gen. Henry Rangel Silva and Gen. Hugo Carvajal.

Mr. Aponte was dismissed by Venezuela’s National Assembly on March 20 over accusations that he had ties to drug suspect Walid Makled. Mr. Aponte was accused of providing Makled, who is now jailed in Venezuela, with an official identification card.

SOUTH SUDAN

Sudan launches 4 attacks on South Sudan

JUBA — South Sudan repulsed four attacks from Sudan over a 24-hour period as fighting on the border showed no signs of slowing, a military official said Thursday.

In a further escalation of rhetoric, Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir said South Sudan’s recent military maneuvers have revived the spirit of “jihad” in Sudan.

Despite the threats and hostilities, a government spokesman said South Sudan was only defending its territory and considers Sudan a “friendly nation.”

South Sudan military spokesman Col. Philip Aguer said three of the attacks were on Wednesday and one was on Thursday. He did not give a death toll.

South Sudan broke away from Sudan last year after a self-determination vote for independence.

NORWAY

Breivik wanted to decapitate former prime minister

OSLO — Confessed mass killer Anders Behring Breivik testified Thursday that he had planned to capture and decapitate former Norwegian Prime Minister Gro Harlem Brundtland during his shooting massacre on Utoya island.

Breivik said his plan was to film the beheading and post the video on the Internet. Brundtland already had left the Labor Party’s youth camp on Utoya when Breivik arrived on July 22, after setting off a bomb in Oslo that killed eight people.

Sixty-nine people, mostly teenagers, were killed on Utoya, where nearly 600 members of the Labor Party’s youth wing had gathered for their annual summer retreat.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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