Baghdad – Iraqi security forces and allied tribesmen battled on Thursday to put down al-Qaida-linked gunmen who, in a coordinated surge, ran rampant in two of the country’s main Sunni cities, overrunning police stations and sweeping through the streets, emboldened by mounting sectarian tensions between minority Sunnis and the Shiite-led government.
Troops hammered the militants with Hellfire rockets recently sent by the United States to help the government’s fight against al-Qaida’s Iraq branch, which also operates with increasing strength in Syria’s civil war across the border.
The al-Qaida branch is known as the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant,
The militants’ swift uprising a day earlier overwhelmed police forces in Ramadi and Fallujah, two cities in the Sunni heartland of Anbar province that were once strongholds for militants battling U.S. troops.
Musharraf court date put off again, for illness
Islamabad – After twice defying summonses to appear before a special court formed to hear treason charges against him, former Pakistani military dictator Pervez Musharraf apparently suffered heart problems Thursday en route to the court, forcing the case to be adjourned until Monday.
Musharraf, who is 70, wasn’t known previously to have had health problems, and many people greeted the report of his illness with skepticism.
Some noted that his motorcade didn’t go to Islamabad’s modern state hospital, the Pakistan Institute of Medical Sciences, about 4 miles from where he was when he complained of chest pains.
Instead, he was taken to the military-controlled Armed Forces Institute of Cardiology in the neighboring city of Rawalpindi, a journey that would have taken three times longer.
Five killed in Beirut after car bomb explodes
Beirut – A car bomb exploded Thursday across from Hezbollah’s main political office in southern Beirut, killing at least five people and wounding dozens.
Lebanese army officials said the estimated 45-pound bomb exploded in a Jeep Cherokee shortly after 4 p.m. and that the vehicle “contained body parts,” which led authorities to speculate that the explosion was the work of a suicide bomber.
Political violence tied to the civil war in Syria has essentially shattered a nation already divided on sectarian lines, with many Sunni Muslims supporting the rebellion against Syrian President Bashar Assad while the Shiite Muslim community, dominated by Hezbollah, has cast its lot with Assad.