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In brief: Car bomb kills 20 Shiite pilgrims

BAGHDAD – A car bomb explosion tore through a crowd of Shiite pilgrims returning home Thursday from a religious commemoration, killing at least 20 and reinforcing fears of renewed sectarian violence, according to Iraqi officials.

The blast erupted late in the afternoon in the town of Musayyib, about 40 miles south of the Iraqi capital. It targeted worshippers returning from the Shiite holy city of Karbala following the climax of the religious commemoration known as Arbaeen.

A police official said at least 50 people were wounded.

Chavez may be too sick for inauguration

CARACAS, Venezuela – President Hugo Chavez is due to be sworn in for a new term Thursday and his closest allies still aren’t saying what they plan to do if he is unable to return from a Cuban hospital to take the oath of office.

The Venezuelan government on Thursday night described Chavez’s lung infection as “severe” and said he is now being treated for “respiratory deficiency.”

Ancient Hebrew texts on display

JERUSALEM – Israel’s National Library is unveiling a trove of Hebrew manuscripts giving the first physical evidence of an ancient Jewish community in Afghanistan.

Library officials said Thursday the documents came from caves in an area of Afghanistan that is now a Taliban stronghold.

The documents, some 1,000 years old, survived because Jews do not throw out papers that include the name of God, and the dry conditions in the caves where they were stored preserved them.

Researchers say the “Afghan Genizah” marks the greatest such archive found since the “Cairo Genizah” was discovered in an Egyptian synagogue more than 100 years ago, a vast depository of medieval manuscripts considered to be among the most valuable collections of historical documents ever found. “Genizah” is the Hebrew word for storage for documents.