Afghan unrest clouds U.S. trip
KABUL, Afghanistan -- Two suicide bombings and a host of looming disagreements with the Afghan president cast a shadow on Saturday over U.S. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel's first visit to Afghanistan since taking the post.
Nineteen Afghans were killed -- including eight children -- in the suicide attacks in Kabul and in the eastern Khost province. A U.S. contractor was killed and four soldiers injured when attackers thought to be Afghan soldiers stormed their base and opened fire Friday, just hours before Mr. Hagel arrived.
Afghan President Hamid Karzai, meanwhile, was standing by a demand that U.S. special operations forces leave a province neighboring Kabul by Monday for alleged abuses of Afghan civilians -- charges that U.S. officials deny. And a handover ceremony scheduled for Saturday of a U.S. detention facility also fell through, when U.S. and Afghan officials ran into last-minute disagreements.
Venezuela vote set
CARACAS, Venezuela -- Venezuela will hold a special presidential election to select Hugo Chavez's successor on April 14, the National Electoral Council said Saturday.
Candidates have until Monday afternoon to register, council President Tibisay Lucena said in televised remarks. Council members decided on the time frames after holding a minute of silence for Mr. Chavez, who died March 5, she said.
Mr. Chavez's handpicked heir, acting President Nicolas Maduro, will run. The opposition will rally around a single candidate, Miranda state Governor Henrique Capriles Radonski, the opposition alliance, known as the Democratic Unity Table, said in an emailed statement Saturday.
Lawmakers choose PM
AMMAN, Jordan -- Jordan's parliament voted Saturday for the monarchy's caretaker prime minister to form a new Cabinet, the first time in the country's history that the legislature rather than the king has decided who will be head of government.
Abdullah Ensour, a former liberal lawmaker known for fiery criticisms of the government when he was in parliament, was selected as part of a reform program aimed at defusing political unrest to stave off an Arab Spring-style uprising.
Killing of hostages claimed
KADUNA, Nigeria -- A breakaway Islamic extremist group said Saturday it had killed seven foreigners whom its members kidnapped from northern Nigeria, according to an online message purportedly from the group.
The message, identified as coming from Ansaru, could not be immediately verified by The Associated Press, though it included photographs that the group claimed showed the dead, who were kidnapped from a construction company compound in February. Those kidnapped included four Lebanese citizens and one each from Britain, Greece and Italy -- all employees of Setraco, a Lebanese construction company with an operation in Bauchi state, officials said.
Also in the world ...
Former South African President Nelson Mandela, 94, has been admitted to a hospital in Pretoria "for a scheduled medical check-up to manage existing conditions in line with his age," according to a statement on President Jacob Zuma's official website. ... Hundreds of people in eastern Pakistan rampaged through a Christian neighborhood Saturday, torching dozens of homes after hearing reports that a Christian man had committed blasphemy against Islam's prophet.
-- Compiled from news services