World briefs: Attack kills 21 in Somalia

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MOGADISHU, Somalia -- At least 21 people died Tuesday in a suicide attack by suspected al-Shabaab militants on a police station in central Somalia, a police official said.

Seven Somali policemen and four Djiboutian members of an African Union peacekeeping mission, known as Amisom, were killed when a car laden with explosives first rammed into the police station in Beledweyne, about 186 miles north of the capital, Mogadishu. Ten suspected al-Shabaab fighters died as they tried to storm the base.

Somali President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud condemned the attack.

Al-Shabaab, which claimed responsibility for the September attack on the Westgate mall in Nairobi, Kenya, in September, controls rural areas in central and southern Somalia.

Freak rainstorm kills 16

ROME -- The Mediterranean island of Sardinia was a flood-ravaged mud bath Tuesday after a freak torrential rainstorm killed at least 16 people, downed bridges and swept away cars.

Italian Premier Enrico Letta declared a state of emergency and set aside 20 million euros ($27 million) for emergency relief, saying the priority was reaching remote areas, saving the lives of those still unaccounted for and providing for those left homeless. Mr. Letta traveled to the island.

The island received more than 17 inches of rain in 24 hours Monday -- half the amount it normally receives in a year, officials said.

Nepal voter turnout high

NEW DELHI -- Voters crowded polling stations across Nepal Tuesday, defying attempts by a powerful Maoist group and other parties to disrupt or prevent new elections for an assembly to write a new constitution.

By the end of the day, 65 percent of the country's 12 million eligible voters had cast ballots, Nepal's chief election commissioner said. Some voters walked hours to reach polling places because the election commission restricted the use of unregistered vehicles on the country's roads for the day.

There were scattered reports of violence, including an explosion in Katmandu that wounded three children. The bomb near a voting station exploded when a child touched it, apparently thinking it was a toy. The child, 8, was in critical condition.

Maduro gets new powers

CARACAS, Venezuela -- Venezuela's legislature on Tuesday gave President Nicolas Maduro decree powers that he says are necessary for an "economic offensive" against the spiraling inflation and food shortages buffeting the country's economy ahead of important municipal elections.

The 50-year-old former union activist and bus driver, who succeeded Hugo Chavez after the mercurial leader died of cancer in March, secured just enough votes for the measure to pass after a dissident lawmaker was recently stripped of her seat.

Opponents warned that Mr. Maduro, who blames the economic crisis on private businessmen conniving with agents of the U.S. government, is leading Venezuela to ruin while trampling on individual liberties.

9 in Greenpeace get bail

ST. PETERSBURG, Russia -- A Russian court Tuesday granted bail to nine foreign Greenpeace protesters, the first non-Russians jailed and awaiting trial over a demonstration near an oil rig to be made eligible for release.

The decision came a day after the court refused to release an Australian activist, and another court granted bail to three Russians. The court set bail at 2 million rubles ($61,500) each. The court said they will be released if the bail is paid within the next four days. Greenpeace said it would make the money available as soon as possible.


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