Allies of Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki swept to easy victories in last weekend's local elections in Baghdad, Basra, and six other provinces, according to final, official figures. The election was the first since December 2005 and was seen as an indication of how voting may go when Iraqis elect a new Parliament at year's end. Against that backdrop, however, a suicide bomber killed himself and at least 13 other people in an ethnically volatile city near the border with Iran. All the victims were Kurds, reports said .
Israel's navy intercepted another cargo ship bound for the Gaza Strip Thursday and sent it to the port of Ashdod. The vessel, reportedly carrying 60 tons of supplies for Palestinians plus eight peace activists, but no weapons, had been warned before leaving Lebanon that it wouldn't be allowed through a blockade of Gaza. The captain set a course for Egypt instead, but then tried to double back, the reports said. The navy turned away similar attempts to reach Gaza by sea during the offensive, but this appeared to be the first since the fighting ended there two weeks ago.
Members of Parliament's lower house in Zimbabwe easily passed legislation amending the Constitution to allow a unity government, then applauded themselves. The measure attracted 184 of 210 possible votes and now goes to the upper house, where approval also is expected. It came one day after reports that debate had been postponed due to a new dispute between the opposition Movement for Democratic Change and President Robert Mugabe's ZANU-PF movement.
Government forces in Sri Lanka reported capturing the largest sea base used by Tamil rebels, cutting the latter's main supply route for fuel and weapons. The latest in a series of government victories squeezes the remaining rebels into a 30-square-mile strip, although they still have access to the sea via some smaller bases. The government said Thursday that at this point negotiations with the rebels "would not be meaningful" and it would accept only "unconditional surrender."
Ten suspected drug dealers were killed and seven others were arrested in a Rio de Janeiro slum Wednesday as Brazilian police and special forces carried out the second of a new type of raid on major cities in less than a week. The first was in SÃ£o Paulo Tuesday. In both cases, police remained behind in a show of force aimed at reclaiming the neighborhoods from drug gangs. Previously, they'd leave once the raid was over.
Drug-related violence spread to an area of Mexico that has seen almost no previous trouble, authorities said Thursday, after gunmen killed a police officer in southern Oaxaca State. The attack wounded three others. Elsewhere, 16 more people died violently over a 24-hour period, 10 of them in Ciudad Juarez, across the border from El Paso, Texas. In all, 31 killings have been reported since last Sunday night.
Without explanation, Canada's Supreme Court refused to hear arguments against the policy of sending asylum-seekers and other refugees back to the US. A lower court decided in 2007 that the US isn't safe for refugees, but it subsequently was overruled and the high court's action upholds the policy. Human rights activists had claimed that the policy, agreed to in the wake of the 2001 terrorist attacks, is unconstitutional and exposes refugees to danger at the hands of US authorities.