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Bombers strike in Bangladesh

Chittagong, Bangladesh Two suicide bombers targeting courthouses killed at least seven people Tuesday in an escalating terror campaign blamed on Muslim extremists demanding an Islamic state.

Two police were among those who died in the blasts in the southeastern port city of Chittagong and Gazipur, 20 miles north of Dhaka, the capital. More than 50 people were injured, 20 of them critically.

The coordinated suicide bombings were the first in Bangladesh, where security forces have been struggling to stop increasingly sophisticated militant attacks and bring the masterminds to justice.

The bombers were suspected of being from the militant group Jamaat-ul-Mujahideen, which authorities recently warned was plotting suicide attacks to press its demands for an Islamic state governed by principles established in the Quran.

Peres might join Sharon government

Jerusalem A deal was emerging Tuesday for elder statesman Shimon Peres to leave the Labor Party, his political home for 60 years, and join Ariel Sharon’s government if the prime minister is re-elected in March.

A Sharon associate and newspaper reports said Peres likely would be charged with developing the outlying Galilee and the Negev regions if Sharon retains power.

Speaking in Barcelona, Spain, on Tuesday, Peres declined to confirm his move. But he had warm words for Sharon and none for Labor, whose members ousted him as party chairman earlier this month in favor of union firebrand Amir Peretz.

Sharon announced last week he was quitting the hard-line Likud to establish a new centrist movement.

Cheetah cubs flown to safety by U.S. troops

Addis Ababa, Ethiopia U.S. troops flew two endangered cheetah cubs to the Ethiopian capital Tuesday after instigating their rescue from a remote village where a restaurant owner had held them captive and abused them.

The male and female cubs – whom the soldiers named Scout and Patch – were released on the grounds of the Ethiopian president’s official residence after their 680-mile journey from the eastern hamlet of Gode.

“This is the first kind of rescue of animals, let alone cheetahs, that we have done,” said Sgt. Leah Cobble, 26, of Washington, as she cuddled the two purring cubs on the runway of Bole International Airport before handing them to government veterinarian Fekadu Shiferaw.

The saga of the cubs started last month when U.S. counterterrorism troops, carrying out humanitarian work in the Gode region, discovered the animals’ owner was keeping them tied up with ropes around their necks at his restaurant and forcing them to fight each other for the amusement of patrons and village children. One cub is blind in one eye.

The soldiers alerted the Ethiopian government and a U.S.-based cheetah rescue organization, drawing international attention to the cubs’ plight.


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