- The Washington Times - Sunday, April 12, 2009

IRAQ

9 Sunni fighters die in suicide attack

BAGHDAD | A suicide bomber detonated an explosives belt Saturday among U.S.-allied Sunni paramilitaries collecting their salaries at an army base, killing nine and wounding about 30, Iraqi officials said.

The attack in the town of Jbala, about 35 miles south of Baghdad, follows a bloody week of bombings that killed more than 50 people in the capital. Five U.S. soldiers died Friday in a bombing in Mosul.

About 250 members of Sunni paramilitaries, known as Awakening Councils or Sons of Iraq, were mingling around the Jbala base at 11 a.m. when the bomber struck.

AFGHANISTAN

Cleric defends marriage law

KABUL | A key backer of an Afghan law that critics say legalizes marital rape and rolls back women's rights rejected the international outcry as foreign meddling on Saturday and insisted the law offers women many protections.

The law, passed last month, says a husband can demand sex from his wife every four days unless she is ill or would be harmed by intercourse, and regulates when and for what reasons a wife may leave her home by herself .

Following an international uproar over the new law, Afghan President Hamid Karzai put it under review.

Mohammad Asif Mohseni, a top Afghan cleric and one of the law's main drafters, said the legislation cannot be revoked or changed because it was enacted through a legislative process - passed by both houses of parliament and signed by Mr. Karzai.

Mr. Mohseni unfurled reams of paper with hundreds of women's signatures and thumbprints backing the law.

GEORGIA

Thousands protest for third day

TBILISI | Thousands of people marched through Georgia's capital Saturday, the third day of peaceful protests demanding the resignation of President Mikhail Saakashvili.

Despite a steady decline in the number of demonstrators each day, their leaders vowed to resume the daily protests with new vigor after a break for Palm Sunday, which Georgians and other Orthodox Christians celebrate Sunday.

Mr. Saakashvili, whose second term runs through 2013, has countered the protests by calling for talks with his opponents.

BRITAIN

Police release man held in terror raids

LONDON | One of 12 people arrested on suspicion of planning a major terror attack in Britain has been released without charge, authorities said Saturday.

The unidentified 18-year-old is now in the custody of the U.K. Border Agency, a police spokeswoman said. She said the other 11 suspects arrested in a series of raids in northern England three days ago are still in custody and being questioned. Most of those in custody were Pakistanis living in Britain on student visas.

British officials have not released details about the reported terror plot, but Prime Minister Gordon Brown called it “very big.” Britain's media has suggested an attack could have been timed to coincide with the Easter holiday and that pictures of supermarkets were uncovered by police hunting for evidence in the northern cities of Liverpool and Manchester.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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