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By Compiled from wire service reports by Robert Kilborn / August 16, 2006



Reversing course, US military officials said car bombs had set off a series of gas explosions in Baghdad Sunday night that killed at least 63 people, injured more than 130 others, and destroyed four buildings. Iraqi authorities had disputed the original US position that there was no evidence of a hostile act in the incident. In the religiously divided city of Mosul, meanwhile, a truck bomb blast killed nine people outside the offices of President Jalal Talibani's Patriotic Union of Kurdistan.

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Members of Congress were among eight protesters injured in the first violence in Mexico linked to presidential candidate Andrés Manuel López Obrador's campaign for a full recount of votes from the July 2 election. Police clashed with supporters of the defeated leftist candidate Monday when the latter broke through a security perimeter around the Federal Election Tribunal in Mexico City and tried to stop tow trucks from removing cars that had been parked there. The two sides then exchanged volleys of stones and tear gas. An aide to Obrador claimed that a partial recount ordered by the tribunal already had shaved 14,140 votes from rival Felipe Calderón's 0.58 percent margin of victory. A spokes-man for Calderón put the number at about 1,500.

Heavy new fighting between Tamil rebels and Sri Lankan government forces was disrupting life in the island's northeast region and in Colombo, the capital. Police banned parking along major streets in the city to try to prevent a repeat of the Claymore mine explosion that targeted a foreign diplomat Monday. He wasn't hurt, but the blast killed or wounded 13 other people. Schools also were closed out of concern that rebels would retaliate for the airstrike against a reputed orphanage that they said killed 61 girls and injured 150 others Monday. In the northern city of Jaffna, kerosene was selling for twice its usual price and electricity was limited to an hour a day.

Authorities raised the number of deaths from typhoon Saomai in southeastern China to 295 Tuesday and said it probably would continue to climb as the remains of fishermen and sailors were found. At least 94 more people remain missing from the most powerful storm to strike the mainland since 1949. The region was still dealing with the aftermath of tropical storm Bilis, which killed more than 600 people last month, when Saomai made landfall Aug. 10. Meanwhile, in Ethiopia, 125 more deaths were blamed on flooding Tuesday, a week after torrential rains killed at least 256 people. An identical number are still listed as missing.

Bitter protests came from Japan's neighbors Tuesday after a visit by Prime Minister Juni-chiro Koizumi to a shrine honoring his nation's 2.5 million war dead. The date was the anniversary of Japan's surrender in World War II. China's Foreign Ministry said the pilgrimage "was wrecking the political foundations" of their bilateral ties. South Korea, whose relations with Japan have been deteriorating for months, called the visit "a total disrespect" for its government and people. Koizumi, who leaves office next month, said he makes the visits – this was his sixth – to "renew our resolve never to go to war again."

An estimated 1.4 million gallons of crude oil leaked from a Japanese supertanker en route home from the Middle East after it collided with a cargo vessel. The spill was the largest in the nation's history, reports said. The accident occurred Monday as the tanker was coming to the rescue of crewmen from the cargo ship, which had caught fire off the Nicobar Islands in the Indian Ocean. Environmentalists said the oil should disperse naturally, causing limited damage to the ecology of the area.

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