Sixty-five people killed in Iraq suicide attacks after bomber targets funeral
A suicide bomber detonated his explosives-laden car near a funeral tent packed with mourners and another bomber on foot blew himself up nearby in a Shi'ite part of Baghdad yesterday evening, the deadliest assault in a day of attacks that claimed at least 65 lives in Iraq.
The attack on the funeral happened around dusk in the densely populated Shi'ite neighbourhood of Sadr City in north-eastern Baghdad.
Police said at least 54 people were killed and more than 70 were wounded. One bomber was able to drive up near the tent before detonating his deadly payload, and another on foot blew himself up nearby. The attack happened hours after insurgents launched a suicide attack on a police headquarters in the city of Beiji, killing seven policemen and wounding 21 others. In that attack, police said four suicide bombers stormed a base for police commandos. Guards killed one bomber, but three others set off explosive belts inside the compound, police said.
PAKISTAN RELEASES TALIBAN PRISONER
PAKISTAN released its highest-ranking Afghan Taliban prisoner yesterday in an effort to jump-start Afghanistan's struggling peace process, Pakistani officials said, but some doubt he will make much of a difference.
The Afghan government has long demanded that Pakistan free Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar, the Taliban's former deputy leader who was arrested in a joint raid with the CIA in the southern Pakistani city of Karachi in 2010.
The United States is also keen for the Afghan government to strike a peace deal with the Taliban before it withdraws most of its combat troops from Afghanistan by the end of 2014. But the US pressured Pakistan not to release Baradar because of concerns he would return to the battlefield, officials said.
KREMLIN COULD DROP SUPPORT FOR ASSAD
RUSSIA'S Interfax news agency quoted a top Kremlin official as saying the government could drop its support for Bashar Assad if the Syrian president reneges on his commitments to give up chemical weapons.
Interfax yesterday quoted Sergei Ivanov, President Vladimir Putin's chief of staff, as saying Russia's position "could change" if it was "certain that Assad is cheating" on giving up chemical weapons. Mr Ivanov emphasised that he was speaking "theoretically and hypothetically".
Meanwhile, Syria has disclosed the information on its chemical weapons programme that was expected under an agreed deadline, the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons said.
The disclosure is a crucial stage in the process that should lead to the weapons' destruction. Syria is believed to possess about 1,000 tonnes of toxins, and has agreed to destroy them under a joint Russian-US proposal designed to avert a US military strike on Syria.
Yesterday it was reported that government troops backed by allied militiamen stormed a predominantly Sunni village in central Syria killing at least 15 people, while opposition forces began an offensive near Aleppo to try to cut the army's supply route to the northern city.
ATOMIC BOMB ALMOST WENT OFF IN 1961
A US hydrogen bomb nearly detonated on the nation's east coast, with a single switch averting a blast that would have been 260 times more powerful than the device that flattened Hiroshima, a newly published book claims.
In a recently declassified document, reported in a new book by Eric Schlosser, the supervisor of the nuclear weapons safety department at Sandia national laboratories, Parker F Jones, said that one simple, vulnerable switch prevented nuclear catastrophe.
Two hydrogen bombs were accidentally dropped over Goldsboro, North Carolina on January 24, 1961, after a B-52 bomber broke up in flight. One of the bombs apparently acted as if it was being armed and fired – its parachute opened and trigger mechanisms engaged.
"One simple, dynamo-technology, low-voltage switch stood between the United States and a major catastrophe!" Jones wrote, adding that it could have been "bad news – in spades" – if the switch had shorted.
NORTH KOREA CANCELS FAMILY REUNIONS
NORTH Korea yesterday ordered the indefinite postponement of a scheduled series of reunions for families divided since the 1950-53 Korean War, dealing a setback to months of efforts to improve relations between the neighbours.
Six days of meetings between family members still separated six decades after the war had been due to start on Wednesday in the Mount Kumgang resort.
MARCH FOR SCOTTISH INDEPENDENCE
THOUSANDS of people joined a march and rally in Scotland's capital yesterday, calling for a Yes vote in next year's independence referendum.
The event in Edinburgh appeared to draw crowds from across the country, with marchers filling the top half of the Royal Mile before winding their way along a city centre route.