World briefs: Assad reasserts wish to remain

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BEIRUT -- Syrian President Bashar Assad says he has no intention of leaving Syria, despite demands from Washington and elsewhere that he relinquish power.

"I am Syrian. I'm made in Syria," Mr. Assad said in an interview with the Russia RT television channel. "I have to live in Syria and die in Syria."

Brief excerpts of the interview appeared Thursday on RT's website. The full session will be aired starting today, the station said.

The Syrian president, speaking in English, repeated his oft-stated position that he has no plans to step down, despite demands for his resignation from armed rebels and their backers in the West and elsewhere.

Moscow, which has been a staunch ally of Mr. Assad, has called for negotiations that would include representatives of his government.

20 killed in bombings

KABUL, Afghanistan -- Bombings killed at least 20 people around Afghanistan on Thursday as insurgents targeted Afghan security forces but left a number of civilians dead.

The deadliest incident was in southern Helmand province when a van struck a roadside bomb, killing 10 people, including five women and a child, said Helmand government spokesman Abdul Zeki.

Two teenage boys died when a bomb exploded in Zabul province as police tried to defuse it, said police spokesman Assadullah Shirza. Three police officers were wounded in the blast, he added. The boys had been scavenging for items in a trash pile when the explosion occurred, Mr. Shirza added.

Taliban suicide attack

KARACHI, Pakistan -- A Taliban suicide bomber rammed a truck packed with explosives into a compound housing a paramilitary force in Pakistan's largest city on Thursday, killing three officers and wounding 20.

The attack underlined the deteriorating security in Karachi, the sprawling port city of 18 million people that is the nation's economic hub.

Border tunnel blast

GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip -- A large, explosive-filled tunnel blew up near soldiers on the Gaza-Israel fence late Thursday, an Israeli military spokeswoman said shortly after the incident.

The explosive-filled tunnel was intended to kill, or to try kidnap, soldiers and was one of the largest that Israeli forces had seen in years, said Lt. Col. Avital Leibovich in a late-night call with reporters. One soldier was lightly wounded.

Marilyn Monroe photos

WARSAW, Poland -- Hundreds of photographs of the blond bombshell Marilyn Monroe and other celebrities were being sold Thursday evening at an auction house in Poland.

Up for sale at the Desa Unicum house in Warsaw were 238 pictures by the late American fashion and celebrity photographer Milton Greene. Most of these pictures of Monroe were taken from 1953 to 1957 when Greene was her adviser and business partner.

Chief justice under fire

COLOMBO, Sri Lanka -- Sri Lanka's Parliament has initiated impeachment proceedings against the nation's chief justice, in what critics have complained is an effort by President Mahinda Rajapaksa to curb the independence of the judiciary and consolidate his power.

The Parliament will now form a committee to examine the 14 charges made public Tuesday against Chief Justice Shirani Bandaranayake of the Supreme Court. She is charged with misusing her position and failing to adequately declare her assets.

-- Compiled from news services



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