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Al-Sadr aides meet with rival party

Fri., Jan. 4, 2008

Representatives of radical Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr met Thursday with officials from his chief rival’s party in an effort to cement a tenuous peace agreement the two signed in October after violent clashes between their followers.

It was at least the second formal overture al-Sadr has made to Abdul-Aziz al-Hakim and his Supreme Islamic Iraqi Council, the largest Shiite political party, in less than a week.

Peace between the two – who each control powerful militias – is seen as key to preventing the outbreak of widespread fighting in oil-rich southern Iraq, where the British military recently handed over responsibility for security to Iraq’s government in Basra, the last province it controlled.

The U.S. military, meanwhile, announced the deaths of three of its soldiers. Two were killed and a third wounded in a small arms attack Thursday in Diyala province northeast of Baghdad. A soldier was killed the previous day in south Baghdad when his dismounted patrol hit a roadside bomb, the military said.

Ankara, Turkey

Kurd rebels blamed in car bomb attack

Suspected Kurdish rebels detonated a car bomb Thursday near a bus carrying soldiers in a Kurdish-dominated city in southeastern Turkey, killing five people and wounding 68.

Thirty soldiers were among the wounded in the attack, the deadliest against Turkish troops since an Oct. 21 ambush that left 13 soldiers dead and prompted Turkey to mass tens of thousands of troops on the border with Iraq, where Kurdish rebels have hideouts.

The attack appeared to be in retaliation for three airstrikes by Turkish warplanes against shelters of the Kurdistan Workers Party, or PKK, in northern Iraq last month. The pro-Kurdish Firat news agency reported that PKK leaders in Iraq have declared big cities in Turkey targets.

Mexico City

Cold snap hits unaccustomed area

A cold snap has brought freezing temperatures, unusual snows and heavy rains to Mexico and Central America, and authorities said the weather may be to blame for several deaths.

Mexico City Mayor Marcelo Ebrard said Thursday that the bodies of four people had been found on city streets since Wednesday, including one who died from pneumonia. Officials were investigating whether the other three deaths were also caused by the weather.

Another man was found dead of pneumonia in a vacant lot in Guadalajara.

Temperatures dropped to 23 degrees in central Puebla state, where residents woke to snow-covered mountains and authorities opened more than 100 shelters.

Snow is not uncommon at very high altitudes in Mexico during the winter, but this week’s cold front brought frost and light snow to towns that normally don’t see such weather. In the capital, residents accustomed to 80-degree afternoons bundled up in temperatures as low as 32.


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