World briefs: Pakistan targets death squads

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KARACHI, Pakistan -- The government announced a security operation against sectarian death squads in the western city of Quetta on Tuesday, four days after a sectarian bombing killed at least 89 people and led to unusually sharp criticism of the powerful military and its intelligence agencies.

Prime Minister Raja Pervaiz Ashraf vowed to target the extremists behind Saturday's bombing, which killed dozens of women and children, and was squarely targeted at a neighborhood in Quetta where Hazara, minority Shiites, are concentrated.

On Tuesday evening, following talks with government officials, Hazara leaders called off countrywide protests that highlighted the failure of Pakistan's civilian and military authorities to stem the rising tide of sectarian bloodshed.

Grieving Hazaras, who had demonstrated in the streets of Quetta beside the coffins of bombing victims, agreed to abandon the symbolically powerful protest and bury their dead.

French tourists kidnapped

YAOUNDE, Cameroon -- Seven French tourists, including four children, kidnapped in northern Cameroon were taken across the border into neighboring Nigeria, said Eloi Gabriel Essoa, a local official in Cameroon.

The people were taken at the village of Dabanga after visiting Waza National Park, he said by phone today from Kousseri, a town in the Far North region that borders Chad and Nigeria. The kidnappers were on motorcycles and the vehicle that the visitors were using was abandoned, officials said.

Livni to join coalition

JERUSALEM -- Tzipi Livni, the former Israeli foreign minister who condemned Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu for failing to advance peace efforts, agreed to join his coalition and manage talks with the Palestinians.

Mr. Netanyahu and Ms. Livni announced the agreement at a news conference in Jerusalem late Tuesday. Ms. Livni, whose Hatenuah party won six parliamentary seats in last month's vote, also was named Justice Minister.

Clean-air plan advances

BRUSSELS -- Lawmakers in Brussels moved on Tuesday to shore up the sagging market for carbon emissions permits, a key component of the European Union's efforts to reduce air pollution.

Prices of carbon allowances, which permit companies to emit greenhouse gases, fell last month to as low as 2.80 euros, or about $3.75, a ton, compared with 9 euros a ton a year ago and 30 euros a ton in 2008. To reduce the supply of permits and drive up the price, the environmental committee of the European Parliament voted to allow the European Commission to reduce the number of allowances to be auctioned over the next three years.

The plan still needs approval from the full European Parliament and the governments of the 27 member states.

Irish PM apologizes

DUBLIN -- Irish Prime Minister Enda Kenny on Tuesday apologized "unreservedly" to thousands of women who had to live in austere conditions in convent-run institutions, known as Magdalene Laundries, in the country from the 1920s until their closure in the 1990s.

For decades about 10,000 women and girls, often unmarried mothers and women who left their husbands, were placed into work-houses. They were branded as "fallen women," Mr. Kenny said on Feb. 5 as a report on the issue was published. The government will create a fund to help the women, Mr. Kenny said.



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