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In brief: Afghan soldier killed and dozens injured in bomb attack on police HQ

Taliban suicide bombers killed an Afghan soldier and wounded 28 people yesterday in an assault on the police headquarters in the main city in southern Kandahar province, the focus of a Nato offensive against insurgents.

In what appeared to be an attempt to raid the provincial police headquarters in downtown Kandahar, insurgents detonated a car bomb just outside the building before two suicide bombers blew themselves up on the street, the Nato-led coalition said.

A third militant wearing a suicide vest was shot and wounded in a nearby wedding hall before he could detonate his explosives, said Lieutenant Colonel Webster Wright, a spokesman for the Nato-led International Security Assistance Force.

That militant was taken into custody. The Taliban claimed responsibility for the attack.

Palestinian elections are called

Palestinians will hold presidential and legislative elections by September, a top aide to President Mahmoud Abbas announced yesterday, a surprise move apparently prompted by the political unrest spreading in the Arab world.

Abbas aide Yasser Abed Rabbo did not give a firm date for elections, but said the chief Palestinian decision-making body, the Palestine Liberation Organisation, was already making preparations.

Taylor in hospital with heart failure

Elizabeth Taylor has been hospitalised for treatment of congestive heart failure.

The Oscar-winning actress was at the Cedars-Sinai Medical Centre yesterday, her spokeswoman Sally Morrison said. The 78-year-old first disclosed in November 2004 that she suffered from congestive heart failure. The condition was compounded with other ailments including spinal fractures and the effects of scoliosis.

Ms Morrison did not know how long Taylor would be in the hospital. Taylor had been scheduled to attend a benefit gala last Wednesday night in New York, where she was to receive an award alongside former president Bill Clinton and designer Diane von Furstenberg, celebrating their dedication to Aids research.

Six killed in feud among drug cartels

Armed men opened fire and hurled a grenade into a crowded nightclub yesterday, killing six and wounding at least 37 in a western Mexico city whose former tranquility has been shattered by escalating battles among drug cartels.

The attack in Guadalajara, the nation's second-largest municipality took place hours after a shootout between soldiers and cartel gunmen left eight people dead in the northeastern city of Monterrey.

Arrest warrant issued for Musharraf

A Pakistani court yesterday issued an arrest warrant for exiled former president Pervez Musharraf in connection with the 2007 assassination of Benazir Bhutto, officially implicating him for first time in the death of the former prime minister and rival.

Ms Bhutto, who was an opponent of Mr Musharraf's rule, was killed in a gun and suicide bomb attack after an election rally in the city of Rawalpindi on December 27, 2007, weeks after she returned to Pakistan following years in self-imposed exile.

Gay groups hit out at Confession app

The launch of an iPhone app that guides Catholics through confession has prompted a furious response from gay rights groups.

"Confession: A Roman Catholic App" was launched last week and has shot to 26 in the download charts. Among the questions users are asked is: "Have I been guilty of any homosexual activity?" Wayne Besen, executive director of Truth Wins Out, a group that campaigns on behalf of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgendered people, accused the app makers of "helping to create neurotic individuals who are ashamed of who they are".

Suicide bomber kills 28 pilgrims

A suicide bomber targeting Shi'ite pilgrims killed 28 people and wounded 24 near the Iraqi city of Samarra yesterday.

The attack was the second suicide bombing in a week near Samarra, where Shi'ite pilgrims are commemorating a religious festival. "Women and children are among them," the police source at Samarra hospital said of the casualties.

Shi'ite pilgrims have been targeted frequently in recent years by a stubborn Sunni insurgency.

Firth tipped to reign at Bafta awards

The final preparations for tonight's Bafta awards were under way yesterday. All eyes will be on actor Colin Firth with The King's Speech expected to reign supreme after topping the nominations list for the Bafta awards.

Other nominations see Pete Postlethwaite, who died last month at the age of 64 after a battle with cancer, posthumously nominated for supporting actor. He is nominated for one of his last roles, as an Irish florist in Ben Affleck's gangster film The Town.

Teen losing cancer battle plans funeral

A brave teenager is planning her own funeral after being told her rare form of cancer is untreatable. Seventeen-year-old Donna Shaw, from Alvaston, Derby, was diagnosed with the rare bone cancer Ewing's Sarcoma in February last year.

Despite surgery and chemotherapy, British doctors have told her nothing more can be done, so she is now planning her final months and every detail of her own funeral, her mother said yesterday.

Scouts' royal kidnap raises eyebrows

A British scout troop's outdoor exercise depicting the fictional kidnapping of Prince William's bride-to-be has raised eyebrows.

The scouts' annual "quest" in the small English town of Amersham, west of London, last week involved watching an actress playing Kate Middleton being allegedly kidnapped by a team of balaclava-clad men. An actor playing Prince William then appealed to the 300 scouts, aged 11 to 13, to help him find his princess.

Sunday Independent