World briefs: Taliban strike in Afghanistan

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KABUL, Afghanistan -- A suicide truck bomber followed by heavily armed men stormed a NATO supplier's compound Tuesday in Kabul, prompting a gunbattle that left a dozen people dead in the latest Taliban attack on a high-profile target in the Afghan capital.

The bold strikes have signaled the Islamic militant movement has no plans to suspend its campaign of violence even though they have agreed to embark on a U.S.-led peace process.

The Taliban opened a political office in the Qatari capital of Doha last month, indicating they were prepared to enter into Afghan peace talks, an effort that has taken on added urgency as the U.S. and its allies prepare to withdraw combat forces by the end of next year. But the movement has persisted with its campaign of violence.

The Taliban have refused to negotiate with President Hamid Karzai's government in the past, saying the U.S. holds effective control in Afghanistan, but the Americans are hoping to bring the two sides together.

Kerry seeks Syria talks

BANDAR SERI BEGAWAN, Brunei -- U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said Tuesday that the United States and Russia were still working toward holding an international peace conference on Syria and agreed that it should take place "sooner rather than later."

But Mr. Kerry indicated that there were still differences with the Kremlin over the conference and suggested that it might not be held before September.

In recent months, Mr. Kerry has repeatedly stressed that it is vital to take steps to change the "calculation" of President Bashar Assad that he can hold onto power so that a political settlement may be worked out. But on Tuesday, Mr. Kerry argued instead that military developments were not so important.

Russian rocket failure

BAIKONUR, Kazakhstan -- The Russian Proton-M rocket that blew up seconds after blastoff Tuesday destroyed three satellites worth $200 million, spurred authorities to indefinitely delay two other launches this month and damaged the image of Russia's lucrative commercial space industry.

The rocket, which appeared to stall and roll about 10 seconds after it was launched, also spewed 600 tons of toxic fuel across the launch pad and surrounding steppe of the Baikonur facility in Kazakhstan, raising fears of contamination and further strain in Moscow's relationship with its former Soviet sister republic.

Canada Day bomb plot

MONTREAL -- Canadian authorities charged two people Tuesday in an "al-Qaida-inspired" plot to bomb Canada Day celebrations at the provincial legislature in Victoria, British Columbia.

John Stewart Nuttall, 39, and Amanda Marie Korody, 30, were arrested Monday, on Canada's 146th anniversary, in Abbotsford, about 40 miles southeast of Vancouver. They face charges of knowingly facilitating a terrorist activity and making or possessing an explosive device using pressure cookers.

Also in the world ...

The United Arab Emirates on Tuesday handed down jail sentences ranging from 10 to 15 years for 68 Islamists convicted of plotting to overthrow the government. ... Israeli security forces fatally shot a 19-year-old Palestinian during clashes early Tuesday in the southern West Bank town of Dura, according to Palestinian officials, raising tensions in the volatile area.

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