Iraqi defense minister promises focus on Baghdad

Iraq’s defense minister promised yesterday to wage a new crackdown in a volatile province northeast of Baghdad where militants are trying to regroup after being routed from their urban stronghold there last summer.

Suicide attacks have killed more than 20 people in the last three days in Diyala province, a tribal patchwork of Sunni Arabs, Shiites and Kurds that stretches from Baghdad to the border with Iran.

Defense Minister Abdul-Qader al-Obeidi told The Associated Press that preparations had begun for a fresh military operation in the provincial capital, Baqouba, about 35 miles from Baghdad.

LISBON, Portugal

EU, Africa summit ends without any progress

The first summit between Europe and Africa in seven years came to an acrimonious end yesterday with leaders squabbling over human rights and no progress on a looming trade pact deadline.

Old divisions surfaced at the two-day summit as leaders swapped accusations over the crises in Zimbabwe and Darfur, and postcolonial tensions deepened over free trade deals.

The World Trade Organization has ruled that the EU’s 30-year-old preferential trade agreement with Africa was unfair to other trading nations and violated international rules. New deals are meant to be finalized by Dec. 31.


Former Pakistan PM’s party to join elections

The party of former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif announced yesterday that it would participate in Pakistan’s parliamentary elections next month after failing to convince rival Benazir Bhutto to join a boycott.

Greater participation will make the balloting look more open, bolstering President Pervez Musharraf’s democratic credentials, which took a hit over his Nov. 3 declaration of a state of emergency and his dismissal of independent-minded judges.

But having by the opposition in the field also will siphon votes and seats from Musharraf’s party, weakening the U.S.-backed leader.


Gunman kills two at mission center, four at megachurch

A gunman killed two staff members at a missionary training center early yesterday after being told he couldn’t spend the night, and about 12 hours later four people were shot at a busy megachurch in Colorado Springs.

Colorado Springs police Lt. Fletcher Howard said a suspect had been detained in the shootings at the New Life Church, but a source who was locked down at the church yesterday afternoon said a security guard had shot and killed the gunman. Authorities in Arvada, a Denver suburb about 65 miles north, said no one had been captured in the shootings there.

It was not immediately known whether the shootings were related, but Arvada authorities said they were sharing information with Colorado Springs investigators.

New Life was founded by the Rev. Ted Haggard, who was fired last year after a former male prostitute alleged he had a three-year cash-for-sex relationship with him. Haggard, then the president of the National Association of Evangelicals, admitted committing undisclosed “sexual immorality.”

– Compiled from Daily wire reports

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