- - Monday, April 18, 2011

IRAQ

Car bombs kill 9 in central Baghdad

BAGHDAD | Suicide car-bombers killed at least nine people and wounded 23 Monday, outside Baghdad’s heavily fortified Green Zone, officials said.

The blasts marked the start of a violent day in the Iraqi capital, where two more bombings and a jewelry heist left three more dead and 15 wounded.

The twin car bombs rattled windows across Baghdad shortly after 8 a.m. The vehicles blew up just outside a security checkpoint on a heavily traveled road leading from Baghdad’s international airport.

EUROPE

North African immigrants straining Europe’s unity

BRUSSELS | A bitter dispute over a flood of North African immigrants is widening divisions among some of Europe’s most powerful nations and adding to strains on the long-held dream of a united Europe.

Since January, an estimated 26,000 Tunisians have fled unrest in their country for the shores of Italy, where officials say the burden of caring for these immigrants should be shared by all 27 countries of the European Union.

The Italians have taken the unusual step of issuing many of the Tunisians temporary residence permits and say that those papers allow the immigrants to go anywhere in a 25-nation EU zone that permits legal residents to cross borders without visas.

AFGHANISTAN

Taliban militant kills 2 inside Defense Ministry

KABUL | A Taliban terrorist opened fire inside the Afghan Defense Ministry on Monday, killing two Afghan soldiers in the latest attack inside a government installation.

The Taliban said one of its agents who was also an army officer planned the attack to coincide with a visit of the French Defense Minister Gerard Longuet, who was not in the ministry at the time.

The assaults over the past four days inside a police headquarters, at a base shared with U.S. troops and now at the heart of the Afghan military establishment, signaled the start of the Taliban’s spring offensive.

NIGERIA

Riots hit north after presidential vote

ABUJA | Angry opposition supporters in Nigeria’s Muslim north set fire to homes bearing ruling-party banners Monday, and heavy gunfire rang out in several towns, as election officials released results showing the Christian incumbent with an insurmountable lead.

The violence cut across 13 states, leaving people hiding in their homes. Many expected casualties, though federal officials declined to offer any figures for fear of further stoking tensions. The Nigerian Red Cross said that 276 had been wounded and 15,000 displaced.

Results from Saturday’s election indicated President Goodluck Jonathan had a commanding lead of more than 10 million votes, with only two states left to be announced. The Muslim north had largely voted for former military ruler Muhammadu Buhari.

HUNGARY

New, pro-life constitution bans homosexual marriage

BUDAPEST | Hungarian lawmakers approved a socially and fiscally conservative constitution Monday that was blasted by gay rights groups and the political opposition for banning homosexual marriages and protecting the lives of unborn children.

Prime Minister Viktor Orban said the constitution will allow the former communist country to complete a transition to democracy and move to an era of sound finances and clean government after years of mismanagement and scandals.

Financial analysts have praised provisions meant to push the state deficit below 50 percent of GDP from above 80 percent now.

The constitution protects the life of a fetus from the moment of conception, a move critics see as opening the possibility for future restrictions on abortion. Same-sex couples may legally register as domestic partners, but marriage is restricted to heterosexual relationships.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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