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World Briefs: British police extradite al Qaeda suspect to U.S.

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UNITED KINGDOM

LONDON — Police in Britain have extradited a suspected terrorist to the United States to face charges that he took part in an alleged al Qaeda plot to detonate explosives aboard the New York City subway system.

Authorities handed over Abid Naseer, 26, to U.S. authorities Thursday.

Prosecutors want Mr. Naseer to stand trial in the U.S. for his alleged role in a terrorist campaign that also would have struck targets in Britain and Norway.

U.S. prosecutors told a British court hearing his extradition case two years ago that they plan to prove that Mr. Naseer collected bomb ingredients, conducted reconnaissance and communicated with al Qaeda operatives.

The alleged activities were suspected to be part of a foiled New York plot and another plot to bomb a shopping area in the English city of Manchester.

INDIA

Police charge 5 in deadly gang rape

NEW DELHI — Authorities filed rape and murder charges Thursday against five men accused of the gang rape of a 23-year-old university student on a New Delhi bus, a crime that horrified Indians and provoked a national debate about the treatment of women.

Police said they plan to push for the death penalty in the case, as government officials promised new measures to protect women in the nation's capital.

Prosecutor Rajiv Mohan filed a case of rape, tampering with evidence, kidnapping, murder and other charges against the men in a fast-track court in southern Delhi inaugurated a day earlier to deal specifically with crimes against women. Mr. Mohan asked for a closed trial, and a hearing was set for Saturday.

The men charged are Ram Singh, 33, the bus driver; his brother Mukesh Singh, 26, who cleans buses for the same company; Pavan Gupta, 19, a fruit vendor; Akshay Singh, 24, a bus washer; and Vinay Sharma, 20, a fitness trainer. They did not appear in court.

A sixth suspect was listed as 17 and was expected to be tried in a juvenile court, where the maximum sentence would be three years in a reform facility.

Police also detained the owner of the bus on accusations that he used false documents to obtain permits to run the private bus service.

IRAQ

Authorities to release 11 women from prison

BAGHDAD — Iraqi authorities on Thursday ordered the release of 11 women facing criminal charges and pledged to transfer other female prisoners to jails in their home provinces, in a move to address a main demand during a wave of protests by the country's Sunni minority against the Baghdad government.

The demonstrations erupted after the arrests of bodyguards assigned to Finance Minister Rafia al-Issawi, one of the central government's most senior Sunni officials.

The protests tap into deeper Sunni feelings of perceived discrimination and unfair application of laws against their sect by Shiite Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki's government.

Vice President Tariq al-Hashemi, another high-ranking Sunni official, is living in exile in Turkey after he was handed multiple death sentences in absentia for allegedly running death squads, a charge he dismisses as politically motivated.

Justice Ministry spokesman Haider al-Saadi said the families of the imprisoned women can secure their release by paying bail.

CENTRAL AFRICAN REPUBLIC

President fires his son from top military post

BANGUI — Facing an insurgency by a new rebel coalition, the president of Central African Republic consolidated military power under his control Thursday after dismissing his own son as acting defense minister along with his army chief of staff.

President Francois Bozize said in a decree read on state radio late Wednesday that he was taking over the position held by his son, Jean Francis Bozize, as neighboring countries sent troops to help.

Hundreds of soldiers from Chad, the Republic of Congo, Gabon and Cameroon have been arriving this week in this desperately poor, landlocked country where rebels have seized 10 towns in a month's time.

Rebel spokesman Col. Djouma Narkoyo reiterated Thursday that they were holding their position at the transportation hub of Sibut pending negotiations in Gabon. They apparently have made no further advance toward the capital since taking the town on Dec. 29.

IRAQ

Car bomb hits crowd, kills 20 Shiite pilgrims

BAGHDAD — A car bomb explosion tore through a crowd of Shiite pilgrims returning home Thursday from a religious commemoration, killing at least 20 and reinforcing fears of renewed sectarian violence, Iraqi officials said.

The blast erupted late in the afternoon in the town of Musayyib, about 40 miles south of the Iraqi capital. It targeted worshippers returning from the Shiite holy city of Karbala after the climax of the religious commemoration known as Arbaeen.

Children were among the 20 people confirmed killed, a police official said. He said at least 50 people were wounded.

The bomb went off in the middle of a gathering of pilgrims changing buses coming from Karbala on their way to other destinations in the country, police said.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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