World briefs (11/21/13)

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Attacks in Iraq kill at least 42

BAGHDAD -- A wave of apparently coordinated bombings hit bakeries and public markets in Baghdad on Wednesday, killing at least 42 people and wounding dozens, many of them as they rushed to shop during a break in heavy rainstorms, according to police, residents and medical officials.

The attacks, most of them car bombings, targeted Shiites and Sunnis, reflecting the protracted sectarian violence that has spiked since the U.S. withdrawal in 2011 and raising concerns that Iraq is facing levels of strife not seen for years.

Augmenting the sense of lawlessness, gunmen killed Col. Sruit Hama, the head of security for President Jalal Talabani, in the northern Kurdish city of Sulaimaniya late Tuesday, officials said.

11 soldiers killed in Sinai

CAIRO -- At least 11 Egyptian soldiers were killed and 37 wounded in the restive Sinai on Wednesday when an attacker detonated a car bomb as a bus filled with troops passed by.

It was the deadliest attack against security forces since August and a sign that efforts to contain al-Qaida-linked insurgents in the region have failed. Egypt's strongman, Defense Minister Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi, vowed to avenge the deaths as the caskets of the slain soldiers arrived at the Almaza military base in Cairo.

Syrian chemical weapons

WASHINGTON -- Unable to find a country willing to dispose of Syria's chemical weapons, the United States is considering plans to place the chemical components of the weapons on a barge where they would be dissolved or incinerated, according to senior U.S. officials.

The two systems under review are intended to destroy the precursor materials that are designed to be combined to form chemical munitions. Syria's smaller arsenal of operational chemical weapons would be destroyed separately, officials said.

Officials from the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, which is operating in Syria to locate and identify the weapons, would monitor the destruction, which would be carried out following safety standards set by legislation in the United States and the European Union, according to officials familiar with the proposal. Officials did not say whether any chemical residue would be dumped in the ocean. The system could be operational in 75 days.

Japan's 2012 vote upheld

TOKYO -- In a widely watched ruling, Japan's Supreme Court on Wednesday called last year's parliamentary elections out of compliance with the Constitution because of inequalities in the size of voting districts, but it stopped short of declaring the results invalid.

The court, the nation's highest, was ruling on 16 separate lawsuits that had been filed by lawyers in courts around Japan seeking to nullify results in December's lower house elections, which returned to power the Liberal Democratic Party of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.

Also in the world ...

A Thai court ruled Wednesday that a major initiative by the ruling party to provide for the direct election of Thailand's Senate was an attempt to "overthrow" the country's democratic system, increasing pressure on a government already made fragile by weeks of anti-government protests. ... Gary Locke, the first Chinese-American ambassador to China, said Wednesday he will leave his post early next year to rejoin his wife and three children in Seattle. Mr. Locke is a former Commerce secretary and governor of Washington.

-- Compiled from news services



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