BAGHDAD

U.S. to leave Karbala province in Iraq

U.S. forces will turn over security to Iraqi authorities in the southern Shiite province of Karbala today, the American commander for the area said, despite fighting between rival militia factions.

Karbala will become only the eighth of Iraq’s 18 provinces to revert to Iraqi control, despite President Bush’s prediction in January that the Iraqi government would have responsibility for security in all of the provinces by November.

But the target date has slipped repeatedly, highlighting the difficulties in developing Iraqi police forces and the slow pace of economic and political progress in areas still troubled by daily violence.

A bomb struck a mainly Shiite town southeast of Baghdad on Saturday for the second time in less than a week, the deadliest attack on a day in which at least 23 people were killed or found dead.

DES MOINES, Iowa

Democrats move up Iowa caucuses

Iowa Democrats voted yesterday to move their leadoff precinct caucuses to Jan. 3, the same date Republicans picked earlier this month, letting both parties continue the tradition of meeting on the same night.

The state’s precinct caucuses had been scheduled for Jan. 14, but the parties decided to move them up under pressure from other states rushing to the beginning of the primary calendar. The move means the major question about the calendar is the New Hampshire primary, originally scheduled for Jan. 22.

New Hampshire Secretary of State Bill Gardner has said only that he would schedule that primary no later than Jan. 8.

OCEAN ISLE BEACH, N.C.

House fire kills 12 college students

An intense fire ravaged a beach house packed with more than a dozen college students early yesterday, killing seven and leaving little left of the structure but its charred frame and the stilts on which it stood.

Six survivors were hospitalized and released, including one who jumped from the burning home and into a waterway, Mayor Debbie Smith said. The cause was being investigated.

“There were three kids sitting on the ground screaming,” said newspaper deliverer Tim Burns, who called 911 after seeing a column of smoke at the house. “There was one guy hanging out the window, and he jumped in the canal. I know he got out because he was yelling for a girl to follow him.”

HIGHLAND TOWNSHIP, Mich.

Two teens arrested in repeated grave vandalism

The Oakland County sheriff says authorities have arrested two teenagers as suspects in the repeated vandalism of a southeastern Michigan cemetery.

Michael Bouchard says detectives got tips last week that led them to suspect that a 13-year-old and a 14-year-old girl were behind the damage to 35 grave sites at Highland Cemetery. It has 8,500 graves and is in Highland Township, about 15 miles west of Pontiac.

The attacks happened in September and October, and some headstones dating back to the 1870s were broken.

– Compiled from Daily wire reports

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