World briefs (12/18/12)
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Bombings shake up Iraq
BAGHDAD -- A wave of bombings hit ethnically disputed northern areas and other parts of Iraq on Monday, killing 25 people and wounding dozens.
The attacks deepen fears that militants are seeking to reignite ethnic and sectarian violence in the country.
The deadliest of Monday's attacks took place in al-Mouafaqiyah, a village inhabited by families from the Shabak ethnic group. Seven people were killed and 11 were wounded in the bombing, police said.
Elsewhere, two car bombs went off in a majority Turkomen neighborhood in the city of Tuz Khormato, killing five people and wounding 26,.
Military contractor targeted
KABUL, Afghanistan -- A suicide bomber driving a car packed with explosives targeted the compound of a private military contractor Monday, killing at least one person and injuring 15 others, including foreigners.
Police said the target was Contrack International, a construction maintenance company that provides logistics services for the Afghan army and police and NATO coalition bases.
Ten girls were killed in eastern Afghanistan when a roadside bomb exploded while they were collecting firewood. The office of the governor of Nangarhar province said the girls were between 9 and 11. The Ministry of Education said some were as young as 6.
Bomb kills 17, hurts dozens
ISLAMABAD -- A powerful car bomb exploded near government offices in northwestern Pakistan on Monday, killing at least 17 people and wounding dozens.
Officials said a vehicle loaded with 90 pounds of explosives was detonated by remote control in Jamrud, close to Peshawar.
The blast's force ripped through the women's waiting area of a bus stop. The dead included four Afghan women and three children.
There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the blast, which damaged shops and vehicles across a wide radius. An estimated 44 people were injured.
Island claim reiterated
TOKYO -- Japan's incoming prime minister Shinzo Abe on Monday reiterated his country's claim to islands at the center of a dispute with China, where state media called on him to repair bilateral relations frayed by the disagreement.
A day after his Liberal Democratic Party reclaimed power in a landslide, Mr. Abe called China "an essential partner for economic growth." At the same time, he insisted the sovereignty of the islands, known as Senkaku in Japan and Diaoyu in China, wasn't an issue.
Relations are at their lowest point since 2005 over the islands, with China stepping up sea and air patrols, and Mr. Abe seeking greater control over the chain.
Birth control for poor
MANILA, Philippines -- After a ferocious debate, the Philippine Congress passed legislation Monday to help the country's poorest women gain access to birth control.
Each chamber passed its own version of the measure -- by 13-8 in the Senate and 133-79 in the House of Representatives -- and minor differences between the two must be reconciled before the bill goes to President Benigno S. Aquino, who pushed for passage, for his signature.
The measure had been stalled for more than a decade because of determined opposition from the Roman Catholic Church. Roughly four-fifths of Filipinos are Catholic.
Birth control is legal and widely available in the Philippines for people who can afford it, The measure passed Monday would stock government health centers, including those in remote rural areas, with free or subsidized birth control options for the poor.
-- Compiled from news services
First Published December 18, 2012 12:00 am