KABUL, Afghanistan – A suicide car bomber blasted a small clinic Saturday in eastern Afghanistan, causing the building to collapse as mostly women and children lined up for vaccinations, maternity care and other services. At least 35 people were killed in one of the deadliest attacks against civilians this year.
Guards saw a sport utility vehicle charging toward the Akbarkhail Public Medical Center, a compound that provides health care for the mountainous area in the Azra district of Logar province. But before anyone could shoot the driver or blow out the tires, the SUV smashed through a wall and exploded, local officials said.
Wary of being blamed for civilian casualties, the Taliban denied it was behind the bombing. Violence has been on the rise since the Islamic movement launched its spring offensive and promised retaliation for the death of al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden.
“This attack was not done by our fighters,” Taliban spokesman Zabiullah Mujahid said in a telephone interview.
The victims – most women and children – included patients, visitors and medical staffers.
Wayward penguin gets medical boost
WELLINGTON, New Zealand – This is one homesick penguin, stranded on a New Zealand beach 2,000 miles from Antarctica and eating sand it mistook for snow.
Wildlife officials stepped in Friday and moved the ailing young bird to a zoo. On Saturday it was on an intravenous drip and recovering from two medical procedures designed to flush sand from its throat and stomach.
The emperor penguin appeared healthy when it was spotted Monday on picturesque Peka Peka Beach on New Zealand’s North Island – the country’s first sighting of the species in the wild in 44 years.
But it grew more lethargic as the week passed, falling weakly into the wet sand at times, and officials feared it would die if they didn’t intervene.
The penguin had been eating occasional twigs of driftwood and lots of sand, which experts said it likely thought was the snow it normally consumes for hydration in Antarctica. Temperatures hovered around 50 degrees, far higher than the subfreezing temperatures it’s used to.
Residents warned of tainted sprouts
LONDON – British officials warned consumers Saturday against eating uncooked sprouts after authorities in France linked seeds distributed by an English vendor to an E. coli outbreak near the city of Bordeaux.
France halted the sale of fenugreek, mustard and arugula sprout seeds from British mail order seed and plant company Thompson & Morgan after eight people were hospitalized following an E. coli outbreak. French investigators found that two of them were sickened after consuming sprouts from the three seed types in the southwestern town of Begles, a suburb of Bordeaux.
Some of those affected were infected by the same strain of E. coli that has killed 44 people – all but one in Germany – and sickened more than 3,700 in recent weeks.
In a statement, Thompson & Morgan said the link being made by French officials was unsubstantiated, adding that it believed that “something local in the Bordeaux area, or the way the product has been handled and grown, is responsible for the incident rather than our seeds.”
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