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World Briefs: Suicide bomber hits religious affairs office

- The Washington Times - Monday, June 4, 2012

IRAQ

Suicide bomber hits religious affairs office

BAGHDAD | A suicide bomber detonated an explosive-rigged car outside Iraq's main religious affairs office for Shiite Muslims on Monday, shearing off the facade of the three-story building and killing at least 23 people in the deadliest single attack in the country in three months, officials said.

More than 70 people were wounded in the explosion, which shattered nearby windows and damaged cars in Baghdad's central Bab al-Muadham area, two police officials said. Firefighters searched the debris for survivors.

In apparent retaliation, a mortar shell hit close to Iraq's main office for Sunni Muslim religious affairs in northeastern Baghdad later Monday, but caused no damage or injuries.

DENMARK

Four convicted in newspaper plot

COPENHAGEN | Four men who planned a shooting spree at the office of a Danish newspaper that published cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad were found guilty of terrorism Monday and sentenced each to 12 years in prison.

The men were arrested in late December 2010. Authorities say they planned to carry out a violent attack just hours later on the Jyllands-Posten's offices in Copenhagen.

The Glostrup City Court handed down prison sentences to Mounir Ben Mohamed Dhahri, Munir Awad, Omar Abdalla Aboelazm and Sabhi Ben Mohamed Zalouti.

The men, Swedish residents of North African and Middle Eastern origin, had been under surveillance by Swedish and Danish intelligence agencies at the time but denied the charges during the trial.

Denmark has been in the crosshairs of Islamist terrorist groups since the publication of cartoons depicting the Prophet Muhammad in 2005, an act that offended many Muslims and sparked demonstrations and rioting in many Muslim countries.

AZERBAIJAN

Activist freed ahead of Clinton's visit

BAKU | An imprisoned Azerbaijani opposition activist was released Monday, just days before Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton is to visit this former Soviet nation.

The Supreme Court ruled that Bakhtiyar Hajiyev could be freed early for good behavior after serving half of his two-year sentence on charges of evading military service.

The Harvard-educated Mr. Hajiyev, 30, was at the forefront of an Arab Spring-inspired wave of peaceful demonstrations in Azerbaijan. Supporters say he was imprisoned in retaliation for his political activism.

Mrs. Clinton is set to visit Azerbaijan on Wednesday as part of a whistle-stop tour of South Caucasus nations. She has previously voiced support for jailed activists in countries she has visited.

KUWAIT

Man get 10 years for insult on Twitter

KUWAIT CITY | A court has sentenced a man to 10 years in prison for Twitter posts deemed insulting to Islam and to the rulers of Gulf allies Saudi Arabia and Bahrain, his attorney said Monday.

The attorney, Khaled al-Shatti, is quoted Monday in Gulf media reports as saying his client, Hamad al-Naqi, has a chance to appeal the sentence.

Mr. al-Naqi claims his Twitter account was hacked.

Prosecutors say Mr. al-Naqi's account contained posts insulting to the Prophet Muhammad and the Gulf states of Bahrain and Saudi Arabia.

YEMEN

Suicide bomber kills four outside barracks

SANAA | A suicide bomber blew up his vehicle outside an army barracks in southern Yemen on Monday, killing four tribal militiamen allied to the military in an attack aimed at stopping an army advance toward a town held by al Qaeda militants.

Government troops are making their way toward the coastal town of Shaqra, one of a string of areas in southern Yemen where al Qaeda terrorists took control over the past year. In recent weeks, the government has launched an intensified offensive by troops and allied tribal fighters trying to retake the region.

On Monday, a suicide bomber in a vehicle drove toward an army barracks in the town of Umsurra, about 30 miles northeast of Shaqra. Troops opened fire on the vehicle, and the driver detonated his explosives, killing himself and four tribal fighters, the Defense Ministry said.

UNITED KINGDOM

Philip in hospital, will miss Queen's fete

LONDON | Prince Philip, husband of Queen Elizabeth II, was hospitalized Monday with a bladder infection and will miss the rest of the celebrations of the monarch's 60 years on the throne, Buckingham Palace said.

The palace said the prince, who will turn 91 on Saturday, was taken to the King Edward VII Hospital in London from Windsor Castle as a precaution and will remain under observation for a few days.

He missed Monday evening's Buckingham Palace pop concert celebrating the queen's jubilee, as well as a service of thanksgiving at St. Paul's Cathedral and a carriage procession Tuesday.

On Sunday, Prince Philip joined the queen and other senior royals on the River Thames in cold, blustery weather for a pageant in honor of Elizabeth's reign.

Philip, who is also known as the Duke of Edinburgh, is a former naval officer who married the queen in 1947. His health remained robust through his 80s, but he has appeared frailer in recent years.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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