Saying he was "very angered," Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki blasted US forces for participation in a joint attack on a Shiite militia stronghold in Baghdad, claiming that it violated the rights of citizens and undermined his efforts at national reconciliation. The raid, in conjunction with Iraqi forces, was part of new attempt to rid the capital of powerful militias, some of whom have close ties to political parties, among them al-Maliki's own. At least 19 more people were killed in Baghdad's relentless violence Tuesday. Meanwhile, the government asked the UN to extend its mandate in Iraq, which was due to expire Friday, by another year.
Federal toll collectors were prevented from charging motorists on highways leading into Mexico's capital Tuesday as supporters of leftist presidential candidate Andrés Manuel López Obrador opened a new front in their protest against alleged fraud in the July 2 national election. Thousands of commuters passed the booths linking Mexico City to Cuernavaca, Pachuca, and Queretaro without paying while the protesters waved the yellow flags of López Obrador's Party of the Democratic Revolution (PRD) at them. The capital is run by a PRD mayor, and police did not clash with the protesters. López Obrador was dealt a major setback over the weekend when the nation's electoral court rejected his demand for a full manual recount of votes.
Tamil Tiger rebels opened the gates to a reservoir in eastern Sri Lanka Tuesday, ending the 19-day cutoff of irrigation water that caused the most intense fighting with government troops in four years. But hostilities elsewhere showed no sign of abating. A car bomb exploded in Colombo, the capital, killing two people in an apparent assassination attempt against a government minister who also is a dissident Tamil political leader. He escaped injury. Meanwhile, funeral services were held for 17 employees of international aid agencies who were found dead over the weekend, most of them shot execution-style.
Flood currents were so strong in western India that boats could not be used to reach stranded residents and almost all evacuations had to be carried out by helicopter. Authorities said at least 139 people were dead and 650,000 others were forced from their homes because of the annual monsoon rains. But because of poor record-keeping, those numbers could well be far higher. The monsoon season typically lasts from June to September. Meanwhile, in Ethiopia, 206 people were reported dead and hundreds of others were missing after the Dechatu River flooded the city of Dire Dawa.
Fewer than 7,000 people remained to be evacuated from their homes on the slopes of Mayon volcano in the central Philippines Tuesday as scientists warned it "is ready to burst" at any time. As of midday, more than 100 "volcanic earthquakes" had been recorded in the past 24 hours, the national institute of seismology said, and President Gloria Arroyo urged residents of the area "not to flirt with danger" by staying or returning without permission. Mayon, the Philippines' most active volcano, has erupted 47 times over the past 400 years. In 1993, lava flows from it were blamed for the deaths of 77 people.
Two more valuable art objects stolen from the world-famous Hermitage museum in St. Petersburg were returned anonymously to a Russian security office Tuesday. But in another embarrassing revelation, the national cultural heritage agency said millions of dollars worth of drawings by the late avant-garde architect Yakov Chernikhov are missing. The agency said it couldn't establish how many had been stolen from a state archive, but that 274 had been recovered from the auction circuit and antiques markets. Earlier this month, Hermitage officials acknowledged that 221 treasures worth $5 million had been stolen from its inventory. Several have since been recovered.