World briefs: Bombings kill 15 in Pakistan

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PESHAWAR, Pakistan -- Bombs that exploded outside two mosques in a village in northwestern Pakistan killed at least 15 people Friday, underlining the challenge of militant violence facing a new government set to take power under the leadership of former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif.

The blasts at the two Sunni Muslim mosques also wounded 70 people, police said. The mosques were located in Baz Darrah village in the Malakand district of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province.

No one has claimed responsibility for the blasts, but suspicion will likely fall on the Pakistani Taliban.

The Sunni militant group has been waging a bloody insurgency against the government for years that has killed thousands of civilians and security personnel. The militants have attacked Sunni mosques in the past, perhaps because the worshippers did not follow their extremist brand of Islam.

$1 million jewelry heist

PARIS -- Thieves ripped a safe from the wall of a hotel room near the Cannes Film Festival and made off with around $1 million worth of jewelry, French officials said Friday.

The apparently well-planned robbery at the Novotel hotel took place in the room of an employee of Chopard, the Swiss-based watch and jewelry maker and festival sponsor.

Chopard has loaned jewelry to A-list stars who walk on the festival's famed red carpet under rapid-fire flashes of cameras.

Military patrols slums

PETARE, Venezuela -- Stern-looking soldiers clutching assault rifles have begun patrolling the maze of ramshackle homes that is Petare, one of the most dangerous parts of Venezuela's notoriously crime-infested capital, Caracas.

Since Monday, dozens of military checkpoints have been set up in crime ridden neighborhoods in the socialist government's latest attempt to control the oil-rich country's violence.

Critics dismiss the "Secure Homeland" initiative as a political charade that risks degenerating into human rights abuses while having little impact on crime.

'Flexibility' on drug policy

MEXICO CITY -- A comprehensive report on drug policy in the Americas released Friday by a consortium of nations suggests that the legalization of marijuana, but not other illicit drugs, be considered among a range of ideas to reassess how the drug war is carried out.

The report, released by the Organization of American States, walked a careful line in not recommending any single approach to the drug problem and encouraging "flexibility."

Political prisoners released

YANGON, Myanmar -- Myanmar President Thein Sein released some 20 political prisoners Friday, just days before a historic summit with President Barack Obama in Washington early next week.

The ex-general's government denied the action was linked to the visit, and activists said the nation's leadership has still not gone far enough.

Also in the world ...

A clutch of Twitter accounts and a blog maintained by the Financial Times were hacked Friday, the latest in a series of cyberattacks claimed by the Syrian Electronic Army, a pro-government group that has regularly targeted media organizations it sees as sympathetic to the country's rebels. ... A throng of thousands led by priests in black robes surged through police cordons in downtown Tbilisi, Georgia, on Friday and attacked a group of about 50 gay rights demonstrators.

-- Compiled from news services



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