World briefs: Bombings kill dozens in Iraq

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BAGHDAD -- A series of attacks Sunday against markets, shopping areas and auto repair shops in largely Shiite neighborhoods of Baghdad killed at least 45 people and wounded dozens more, the police and medical officials said.

Iraq is experiencing a protracted wave of sectarian violence that has increased since the U.S. military withdrawal in 2011, a level of strife not seen since 2006 and 2007. More than 8,000 Iraqis have been killed so far this year, according to the United Nations.

Several bombings struck markets in largely Shiite neighborhoods, killing 26 people and wounding more than 59, the police and medical workers said.

There was no immediate claim of responsibility for Sunday's violence, but insurgents, many of them with links to al-Qaida, have frequently attacked civilians in an effort to undermine the Shiite-led government.

Speaking at a graduation ceremony for new security officers, Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki said that "the time of militias and gangs is over" and that the government would continue to fight the insurgents, down to "the last rebel."

Netanyahu makes his case

WASHINGTON -- In a pointed rebuttal to President Barack Obama, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Sunday that Iran could be forced to drop its nuclear program and urged new economic sanctions.

One day after Mr. Obama argued that Iran can't be compelled to give up its entire nuclear infrastructure, Mr. Netanyahu insisted that military threats and economic penalties could compel Tehran to surrender what it views as a national treasure.

Mr. Netanyahu called for intensified economic penalties on Iran and a halt to the easing of pressure on the Islamic Republic that he said has followed a preliminary international deal to curb its nuclear program. "Steps must be taken to prevent further erosion of sanctions," he said in an address by satellite link to the Brookings Institution's annual Saban Forum.

Mr. Netanyahu's comments appeared aimed in part at urging Congress to quickly add new penalties, despite White House pressure to delay such action.

Afghan-Iranian pact signed

KABUL, Afghanistan -- Afghan President Hamid Karzai and his Iranian counterpart Hassan Rouhani agreed to sign a cooperation accord for political, economic and security issues, his office said Sunday.

The Afghan president has resisted signing a security deal to extend the U.S. military presence beyond 2014. U.S. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel bypassed Karzai on a visit to meet U.S. troops in Kabul this weekend.

Justice for women stalls

KABUL, Afghanistan -- Despite years of intensive effort by Afghan and international rights advocates, progress in obtaining justice for abused women in Afghanistan appeared to have stalled, according to a report released Sunday by the United Nations.

The report, on the implementation of the 2009 Elimination of Violence Against Women law, found that although the number of official reports this year by the police and prosecutors on violence against women rose by 28 percent from the previous year, actual prosecutions did not remotely keep pace, rising by just 2 percent.

At the same time, there are intensifying fears that the continuing withdrawal of international money and staff members ahead of the 2014 Western troop pullout deadline will leave women particularly vulnerable.

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