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In brief: Gunmen disguised as border police storm Afghan bank, killing 18 people

Gunmen dressed as border police killed at least 18 people and wounded more than 70 in an attack on a bank in the main city in Afghanistan's east yesterday, government officials said.

A witness reported hearing blasts and said gunfire could still be heard coming from a branch of the Kabul Bank, Afghanistan's top private lender that handles salaries for the police and armed forces in Jalalabad city.

China suppresses call for revolution

Chinese authorities cracked down on activists as a call circulated for people to gather in more than a dozen cities today for a "Jasmine Revolution". The source of the call was not known, but authorities moved to halt its spread. Searches for the word "jasmine" were blocked yesterday on China's largest Twitter-like microblog, and the website where the request appeared said it was hit by an attack.

G-20 reaches deal on imbalances

The world's top economies have made a compromise deal on how to track imbalances in the global economy that have been blamed for exacerbating the financial crisis.

Finance ministers and central bank governors from two of the G20 states, Germany and France, also managed to get China to agree on economic yardsticks, by softening criteria for measuring current account surpluses.

House votes to cut $61bn in spending

The Republican-controlled US House of Representatives has voted to cut at least $61bn (€45bn) in federal spending this year, setting up a battle with Democrats over the budget that threatens a government shutdown.

After more than 90 hours of debate, the House decided 235-189 early yesterday to send the measure to the Senate.

'Red shirts' demand release of leaders

Thai anti-government "red shirts" mobilised tens of thousands of supporters to seek the release of detained leaders yesterday, underlining festering problems in the divided nation ahead of elections planned this year.

The demonstrators defied a security law to rally at locations in Bangkok, including at the Supreme Court, which is due to make a ruling on whether to grant bail to seven top leaders held on terrorism charges.

Journalists' prison sentence revoked

An Iranian court yesterday threw out a 20-month prison sentence for two German journalists arrested after interviewing the son of a woman condemned to die by stoning, clearing the way for their release. The court cut the sentence to a fine of $50,000 (€36,515) each.

Tunisia's ousted leader had gold stash

Tunisia's ousted president hid diamonds, gold and cash in secret spots around his palace in the impoverished nation, according to video shown by state TV yesterday.

Popular uprisings in January toppled president Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali. Despite having held power for 23 years, Ben Ali hid treasures behind curtains and in secret compartments behind the palace library.

The broadcast said the riches would be redistributed to Tunisians, who complained of rampant corruption during Ben Ali's rule. Tunisian GDP per capita is $10 (€7) per day.

Silvio 'chatted up Naomi Campbell'

The wife of Britain's ex-leader Gordon Brown says she spotted Italian Premier Silvio Berlusconi asking for model Naomi Campbell's phone number at an official dinner.

Sarah Brown said yesterday that she later joked about the episode with Harry Potter author JK Rowling.

Sunday Independent