A thunderous blast tore through a vacant apartment building in northern Iraq on Wednesday, killing at least 17 civilians and wounding more than 130 in adjacent houses just minutes after the Iraqi army arrived to investigate tips about a weapons cache.
Rescue crews searched under toppled walls, collapsed ceilings and piles of debris tossed by the explosion that blew apart the empty building, which Iraqi authorities said was used by insurgents to stash weapons and bombs.
The blast reinforced U.S. claims this week that Mosul – Iraq’s third-largest city – is now the last urban center with a strong presence of al-Qaida in Iraq. American and Iraqi forces have been on the offensive against insurgents in and around Baghdad, but Mosul continues to be a center of gravity for al-Qaida in Iraq, according to the military.
Judge says cell planned attack
An Islamic militant cell broken up over the weekend had planned a suicide attack targeting Barcelona’s public transport network, a Spanish judge said Wednesday. He ordered 10 suspects jailed pending further investigation and freed two others.
Police detained 14 people in Saturday’s raids in Barcelona – 12 Pakistanis and two Indians – but authorities later released two of them without charge. The nationalities of those freed were not made public.
Judge Ismael Moreno of the National Court said three of those ordered jailed had been planning to stage the suicide attack for last weekend. He identified them as Mohamed Shoaib, Mehmooh Khalib and Imran Cheema, and said they had arrived in Barcelona from Pakistan some time between October and mid-January.
Arrest made in death of agent
Mexican authorities said Wednesday they have arrested a man for the weekend killing of a U.S. Border Patrol agent who was run over by a suspected smuggler’s vehicle.
Agent Luis Aguilar, 32, was placing spike strips in the path of two vehicles believed to have illegally entered the United States from Mexico on Saturday when one of the vehicles struck and killed him, authorities in Arizona said.
Mexican federal and state police arrested Jesus Navarro Montes on Tuesday in the northern state of Sonora, according to a statement distributed Wednesday by Mexico’s federal Attorney General’s office and Public Safety Department.
Authorities believe Navarro left Mexicali in Baja California and was headed for the U.S. in a Hummer carrying drugs on Saturday, the statement said.
After allegedly running over Aguilar, Navarro, 22, drove to Mexicali and gave the Hummer to accomplices for safekeeping, said a spokesman for Attorney General’s office.
Navarro had previously been detained and jailed for smuggling 10 undocumented migrants into the U.S., and there was a warrant for his arrest in Mexicali for human trafficking, the statement said.