World Briefs: 14 killed in attacks, robbery; militants suspected

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BAGHDAD — Attacks against al Qaeda’s favorite targets in Iraq killed 14 people Monday as insurgents struck security forces, a government office and jewelry stores, demonstrating a continued threat from armed groups as the country prepares to host a meeting of the Arab world’s top leaders.

Security officials expect al Qaeda to ramp up violence over the next few weeks as Baghdad prepares to host the annual Arab League summit at the end of the month.

There was no immediate claim of responsibility for Monday’s strikes, and numerous armed groups in Iraq have mixed attacks on political targets with money-making criminal operations.

But al Qaeda in Iraq for years has been thought to fund itself in part with cash and gold stolen from jewelry stores.

Militants struck first in a pre-dawn raid Monday in the city of Tarmiyah, 30 miles north of Baghdad, where police said gunmen in at least two cars attacked the local mayor’s office. Three policemen were killed, police and health officials said. The mayor was not in his office at the time.

AFGHANISTAN

Officials: 45 trapped in avalanche of snow

KABUL — An avalanche struck two remote villages in northeast Afghanistan on Monday, and 45 people were feared trapped in the snow, authorities said.

The avalanche hit the villages of Poshan and Ghadoor in Mondol district of Nuristan province, said provincial spokesman Mohammad Zareen.

“We are not sure how many died and how many survived,” he said.

Avalanches are common in the mountainous northern provinces, but extremely heavy snowfall this year has resulted in more avalanches than normal. At least 50 people died March 4 in an avalanche in Badakhshan province.

UNITED KINGDOM

Euthanasia case allowed to proceed

LONDON — A British judge ruled Monday that the case of a severely disabled man who wants to end his “intolerable” life should be allowed to proceed.

Tony Nicklinson, 57, suffered a paralyzing stroke in 2005 that left him unable to speak or move below his neck and in need of constant care. He communicates largely by blinking.

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