World

Between Baghdad and the volatile Sunni triangle city of Ramadi, US and Iraqi forces arrested or killed 86 Al Qaeda suspects over the weekend, some of them suspected of planning to target members of Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki's family. Among those taken into custody: seven members of Health Minister Ali al-Shemari's guard detail. A furious Shemari called the arrests "a provocation" and demanded an end to US military operations. Shemari is allied with radical Shiite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr, reports said,

The first photographs of Fidel Castro since he underwent major surgery two weeks ago were posted Sunday on the website of a communist youth newspaper in Cuba, accompanied by a statement from him coinciding with his 80th birthday. The dictator asked Cubans to be "optimistic" about his health but "at the same time to be ready to face any adverse news." He said it "would be absolutely incorrect" to believe his recovery from the surgery "will take a short time."

Amid growing indications that a partial recount of votes won't alter the outcome of Mexico's presidential election, defeated leftist candidate Andrés Manuel López Obrador tried a new strategy over the weekend. The former mayor of Mexico City asked the nation's electoral court to throw out results from almost 5,000 polling places, alleging that between the discovery of previously uncounted ballots and the disappearance of others, more than 100,000 votes are affected. The outcome of the July 2 election has yet to be certified officially, but conservative rival Felipe Calderón is considered the winner by a margin of 0.58 percent, or about 244,000 votes. Although López Obrador campaigned on the theme that governments should not intervene in each other's affairs, he appealed Friday for international pressure to force a full recount.

Tamil separatist rebels hastily denied reports that they had offered peace negotiations to the government of Sri Lanka and said discussions are "impossible" given the current level of fighting with the armed forces. Earlier Sunday, a senior government official told journalists that the offer of renewed peace talks had been extended through European cease-fire monitors at the end of last week and "we accepted." But over the weekend the two sides engaged in the heaviest fighting since the signing – in 2002 – of a truce. On the Jaffna peninsula, rebel units reportedly broke through government defenses, killing or wounding 114 soldiers.

Residents of Bakassi, the disputed peninsula between Nigeria and Cameroon, vowed to "die protecting it" rather than see the territory revert to the latter's control today. The World Court ruled four years ago that the peninsula must be ceded to Cameroon, although most of those who live there are of Nigerian birth. The Nigerian government missed a September 2004 deadline for the handover, citing "technical difficulties," but said last June that it would comply within 60 days. The peninsula has offshore oil deposits and rich fishing grounds. It had been guarded by 3,000 Nigerian troops, whose withdrawal is being monitored by observers from the US and European governments. Cameroon has pledged to respect the rights of the residents under a transitional administration that will be in place for five years.

More casualties from typhoon Saomai were discovered Sunday across southeastern China, four days after the powerful storm roared through the region and then weakened into a tropical depression. Authorities raised the number of deaths to 134 and said 163 other people remain missing. The Xinhua news agency put the overall economic loss at $1.45 billion, although continuing rain and subsequent landslides could raise the total. More than 20,000 soldiers and military police were mobilized to help clear damage from Saomai, the strongest storm to strike China in a half-century.

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