Group claims responsibility for blasts

A little-known group that police say has ties to Kashmir’s most feared militants claimed responsibility yesterday for a series of terrorist bombings that killed 59 people in New Delhi.

Authorities said they already had gathered useful clues about the near-simultaneous blasts Saturday night that ripped through a bus and two crowded markets just before the Hindu festival of Diwali, one of the year’s busiest shopping seasons.

Investigators reportedly raided dozens of small hotels across India’s capital looking for possible suspects, and police said “numerous” people were being questioned.

The attacks came at a particularly sensitive time as India and Pakistan were hashing out an unprecedented agreement to partially open the heavily militarized frontier that divides the disputed territory of Kashmir to speed relief to victims of a massive earthquake earlier this month.


GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip

Palestinians, Israelis agree to halt violence

Israel and the Palestinians agreed yesterday to halt their latest round of rocket attacks and airstrikes, officials said, but the deal threatened to fall through when Israeli forces killed three Islamic Jihad militants in the West Bank.

Israeli forces circled a house in the West Bank town of Qabatiyeh after sundown Sunday and killed Jihad Zakarne, an Islamic Jihad member accused by Israel of planning a deadly suicide bombing last week, and another militant, witnesses and Palestinian security officials said.

Israel Radio reported Israeli troops killed a third Palestinian who was planting a bomb nearby. The Israeli military had no comment.

Islamic Jihad responded with a statement threatening to hit Israeli towns near Gaza and called on “Palestinian factions to be united to confront the Zionist campaign against the Islamic Jihad and the Palestinian people in the West Bank.”


KABUL, Afghanistan

U.S. soldiers charged over alleged assault

Two U.S. soldiers have been charged with assault for allegedly punching two detainees in the chest, shoulders and stomach at a military base in Afghanistan, the military said yesterday. The announcement came just 10 days after the military launched an investigation into television footage purportedly showing a group of U.S. soldiers burning the bodies of two dead Taliban rebels.

The charges against the two soldiers include conspiracy to maltreat, assault and dereliction of duty. The allegations, if substantiated, could lead to disciplinary action, the statement said, adding that neither detainee required medical attention.


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