World briefs: Bomb blast kills 19 in Iraq

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BAGHDAD -- A bomb struck a crowded coffee shop late Friday in the ethnically disputed northern Iraqi city of Kirkuk, killing at least 19 and wounding more than two dozen in the latest in a string of bloody attacks pounding Iraq since the start of the holy month of Ramadan this week.

Iraq is being rocked by its deadliest and most sustained wave of bloodshed in half a decade. More than 2,600 people have been killed since the start of April, raising fears that the country is once again edging toward the brink of civil war a decade after Saddam Hussein was toppled in the U.S.-led invasion.

The blast exploded in the Classico Cafe in southern Kirkuk, 180 miles north of Baghdad, as patrons were enjoying tea and water pipes hours after the sunset meal that breaks the daylong Ramadan fast, police said.

Pro-Morsi forces rally

CAIRO -- Tens of thousands of Islamists rallied Friday in cities across Egypt, vowing to sustain for months their campaign to restore deposed President Mohammed Morsi to power.

Also on Friday, the U.S. called for the release of Mr. Morsi, the first time it has made such an appeal since the former president was taken into army custody. July 3.

Indonesian prison break

JAKARTA, Indonesia -- Indonesian authorities, including an elite police counterterrorism unit, were scouring the northern city of Medan on Friday for dozens of inmates, including convicted terrorists, who escaped from a penitentiary the previous evening during deadly rioting that killed five people.

The riot was triggered by a power failure and water shortage that disrupted fast-breaking for the Islamic holy month of Ramadan, officials said.

U.S., Philippines talks

MANILA, Philippines -- The United States is negotiating an agreement to allow it to position military equipment and rotating personnel in the Philippines while avoiding the controversial issue of re-establishing U.S. bases there, officials from both countries said.

The negotiations for increased military access by the United States take place against the backdrop of simmering tensions between the Philippines and China over areas in the South China Sea claimed by both countries.

The Philippines, which has a small navy and air force, is relying on support from the United States to modernize its military and upgrade its capabilities. Part of this military relationship has involved regular short-term visits by U.S. military forces for joint training, humanitarian work and disaster response.

U.S., EU trade talks

WASHINGTON -- As they concluded their first round of trade talks in Washington on Friday, chief negotiators for the United States and the European Union said they'd made good progress this week and announced plans for a second round in Brussels the week of Oct. 7.

Despite a long list of thorny issues that they pledge to resolve, negotiators hope to finalize a new trade deal, which would rank as the largest in history, by the end of next year.

Ireland OKs abortion bill

DUBLIN -- Abortion will be allowed in the Republic of Ireland for the first time after a parliamentary vote to legalize the termination of pregnancies in cases where there is a real and substantial risk to the life of the mother, including the threat of suicide.

The contentious Protection of Life During Pregnancy Bill 2013 was passed 127-31 early Friday.

-- Compiled from news services



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