Radical Shiite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr may give his followers the OK to stop observing the cease-fire with US and Iraqi forces by week's end, a close aide said. Such a move could send members of his so-called Mahdi Army back onto the streets for confrontations with coalition troops and police. The aide said "all Mahdi members nationwide" have been alerted to watch for a statement by Saturday, and if none is issued, "then that means the freeze is over." The truce is credited with helping to bring a sharp decline in violence, but it hasn't stopped coalition forces from staging raids against Mahdi factions.
Iran has provided "enough" information on its nuclear activities to the International Atomic Energy Agency, senior officials maintained Wednesday. The IAEA is expected to release a report evaluating the Iranian program on Friday, and its chief, Mohamed ElBaradei has said that the two sides have made "good progress" on resolving outstanding issues. But President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said in a speech that Iran's determination to ignore Western concerns about its nuclear program has brought the US and other governments "to their knees."
New violence erupted in Kenya's capital Wednesday as hundreds of armed men attacked a bus, forcing passengers out and setting it on fire as feuding political parties appeared no closer to agreement on ending the postelection crisis. Opposition leader Raila Odinga's Orange Democratic Movement set a one-week deadline for "constitutional changes" in negotiations with President Mwai Kibaki and said it would resume "mass action" if a deal isn't reached. Above, youths look out through windows of the burned-out bus.
In a new crackdown against the outlawed Muslim Brotherhood, Egyptian police arrested 87 members Wednesday, many of them potential candidates in local elections April 8. Although banned since 1954, the brotherhood is Egypt's largest opposition group. Running as independents, its candidates scored unexpectedly large victories in parliamentary races three years ago. More than 600 members have been detained since Jan. 1.
Prime Minister Serge Sarkisian was declared Armenia's president-elect Wednesday, and a monitoring team from the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe said voting was "mostly in line with international commitments." Sarkisian (l.) took 53 percent of the vote, the Central Election Commission said, avoiding a runoff against opponent and former president Levon Ter-Petrosian. Still, thousands of the latter's supporters protested in the streets of Yerevan, the capital, that the election was rigged.
A powerful earthquake and multiple aftershocks rocked Indonesia's Aceh Province Wednesday afternoon, killing at least three people and leveling buildings on a nearby island. But no tsunami followed. The US Geological Survey measured the quake at 7.5 on its open-ended scale. The December 2004 earthquake off Aceh and a resulting tsunami were blamed for more than 170,000 deaths.
More than 45,000 US military personnel, civilian support staff, and dependants on Okinawa were restricted to their bases and residences Wednesday as public anger mounted over the alleged rape of a teenage girl by a marine. The order came on top of a curfew already in place for marines and will remain in effect indefinitely, a military statement said. The Japanese government welcomed the move but said "further concrete measures" were needed.
For the first time, the governments of Rwanda, Congo, and Uganda will collaborate on a project to improve security for endangered mountain gorillas, the BBC reported. Many of the species, whose numbers worldwide are down to about 700, live in a region where the three countries meet. The apes are threatened by poachers, by deforestation, and by the Ebola virus.