World

A series of attacks – including two suicide car-bombings – in the northern Iraqi city of Kirkuk Sunday killed 24 people and wounded dozens, police said. The attacks came as Iraq's second-largest Sunni Arab party rejected a proposed bill that would pave the way for Iraq to become a federated nation, saying it would divide the country. Some Shiites want to create an autonomous region in the oil-rich south where they are dominant. That would leave Sunni Arabs with Iraq's western provinces, which are mostly desert. The northern Kurdish area, which is more economically stable and peaceful than other parts of Iraq, is the country's only existing federal region.

The Israeli Cabinet Sunday authorized a government commission to conduct an inquiry into Israel's handling of the recent 34-day war in Lebanon. Although some more critical voices called for the establishment of a so-called state commission, with powers to dismiss government and military officials, Prime Minister Ehud Olmert said the investigators would have authorities comparable to those of a state commission. The government and army have faced strong criticism for accepting a UN-brokered cease-fire without crushing the Hizbullah militia, which plans a "victory" rally in Beirut on Friday.

Sweden's ruling Social Democrats were locked in a possible photo finish with a four-party opposition bloc in Sunday's national parliamentary election. The center-right alliance has vowed to trim and improve the famed Scandinavian welfare state, but Social Democrats have held a 12-year grip on power.

Moderate Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and the militant group Hamas have been forced to delay talks on forming a coalition government, Palestinian officials said Sunday. Abbas had hoped to soften Hamas's anti-Israeli ideology by drawing it into a coalition that could lead to a lifting of international economic sanctions, but Hamas said over the weekend that it would not compromise further.

The Sri Lankan navy engaged in a high-seas gun battle with Tamil Tiger rebels off the country's east coast Sunday. Eight insurgents were reportedly killed after the heavily armed ship ignored warning shots and the navy, which said it suffered no casualties, called in airstrikes.

About 140 Cambodians who lived through the Khmer Rouge atrocities of the late 1970s, which killed nearly 2 million people, joined a global rally Sunday in calling for an end to violence in the war-torn Darfur region of Sudan. At least 200,000 people have been killed in Darfur and more than 2 million have fled their homes since 2003, when ethnic African tribes revolted against the Arab-led Khartoum government.

A Russian-built spacecraft carrying a Russian cosmonaut, an American astronaut, and the first female space tourist is scheduled to lift off Monday in Baikonur, Kazakhstan, en route to the international space station. The tourist, Anousheh Ansari, reportedly has paid $20 million to become the fourth private citizen to take a trip on a Russian spacecraft.

Ugandan rebel Joseph Kony arrived at a neutral camp in southern Sudan, as prescribed in a truce the government brokered late last month, a rebel official told the Associated Press Sunday. Under the truce, aimed at ending 19 years of conflict, rebels are to arrive at one of two assembly points.

A spokesman for the World Bank's avian flu task force said Sunday that a severe pandemic could cost more than 3 percent of the global economy's gross national product. The estimated $2 trillion price tag is a sharp increase over earlier estimates.

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