World briefs: Blasts in China kill at least 31

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URUMQI, China -- Attackers hurled bombs from two SUVs that plowed through shoppers at a busy street market in China's volatile northwestern region of Xinjiang on Thursday, killing 31 people and wounding more than 90.

The early morning attack in the city of Urumqi was the bloodiest in a series of violent incidents over recent months that Chinese authorities have blamed on radical separatists from the country's Muslim Uighur minority.

The Xinjiang region is home to the native Turkic-speaking Uighurs but has seen large inflows from China's ethnic Han majority. Uighur activists contend that restrictive and discriminatory policies favoring the Chinese migrants are fueling the bloodshed.

Libyans fear all-out war

TRIPOLI, Libya -- Powerful militias aligned with the Islamist-dominated parliament deployed in the Libyan capital Thursday, raising the specter of an all-out war with forces loyal to a renegade former general who wants the legislative body disbanded.

Known collectively as the Libya Central Shield, the militias from the western city of Misurata were heeding a call by the head of parliament, Nouri Abu Sahmein, to protect Tripoli after gunmen loyal to the ex-general, Khalifa Hifter, stormed it Sunday.

Afghan cops kidnapped

KABUL, Afghanistan -- Taliban fighters kidnapped more than two dozen Afghan police officers during an assault in the northeastern corner of the country that also left eight officers dead, officials said.

The attack in Badakhshan province's Yamgam district on Tuesday and Wednesday could prove deadlier than any other attack on Afghan forces, if the abducted officers are executed, as many fear.

Korean naval clash

SEOUL, South Korea -- Naval vessels from North and South Korea exchanged fire Thursday, raising tensions along a disputed maritime boundary. Neither hit the other.

The firing took place across the Northern Limit Line, which South Korea says is its maritime boundary in waters west of the Korean Peninsula. North Korea does not recognize the line.

Hardliners back nuke deal

TEHRAN -- Iran's Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif got the backing of one of the biggest critics of his government's stance in nuclear talks, as the country's hardliners fall into line with the search for detente.

"All must support the negotiating team to reach our aim" of securing Iran's nuclear rights, said Saeed Jalili, former presidential candidate and nuclear negotiator.

Mr. Jalili's comment comes two days after the chief of Iran's armed forces warned conservative media organizations, some with links to the Revolutionary Guards, to stop inciting the public against the nuclear talks and to back President Hassan Rouhani instead.

European elections begin

LONDON -- Millions of Europeans still feeling the hangover of a prolonged economic slump began voting Thursday in a four-day, 16,000-candidate election for seats in the European Parliament.

Although parties on the center-right and the center-left are expected to hold on to their majority in the parliament, those on the extremes are poised for a substantial boost, with voters rallying to the message of blaming Brussels for years of high unemployment and sluggish growth.

Britain and The Netherlands began voting Thursday.


-- Compiled from news services


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