World

Claiming that there are vital unanswered questions about the July 7, 2005, London terrorist bombings, survivors and relatives of 52 commuters killed in the attacks began legal action Thursday to force the British government to hold an independent inquiry. The government has rejected calls for such a review, saying it would distract stretched security forces when Britain is at serious risk of further terrorism. The 7/7 inquiry group wants to learn how much the authorities knew about the bombers before the attacks.

The latest round of internationally brokered talks on Kosovo's future began Thursday in Vienna, with the leaders of Kosovo's ethnic Albanian majority urging Serbia to stop trying to block independence for the breakaway province.

Although the gradual trend of abolishing capital punishment globally continued last year, with three fewer countries retaining it, the number of executions rose from 5,494 to 5,628, according to the annual report of Hands Off Cain, a Rome-based group opposed to the death sentence. Twenty-seven of 51 countries with the death penalty used it in 2006.

Frustrated young men in teeming refugee camps in Sudan's Darfur region have become militarized and present a danger that can't be ignored, a UN official told the BBC. "If you have large numbers of people in the camps, you have the government of Sudan's military presence in the area, there are bound to be clashes," said John Holmes, the UN's emergency relief coordinator.

Two police officers among the 10 suspects in the contract-style killing of investigative journalist and Kremlin critic Anna Politkovskaya have been released, Russian news agencies reported Thursday, reinforcing doubts about prosecutor Yuri Chaika's case. Chaika, who announced the arrests earlier in the week, claims a Chechen criminal group organized the assassination in an attempt to discredit President Vladimir Putin and destabilize Russia.

Two American priests consecrated as Anglican bishops in Nairobi, Kenya, Thursday, joined a growing number of conservative US clerics who have split from the Episcopal Church over its accepting stand on homosexuality.

Several hundred Italian policemen conducted a raid Thursday in the town of San Luca and arrested 32 suspected members of organized-crime clans believed to be involved in the slayings of six Italian men in Germany Aug. 15. A feud within the local version of the Sicilian Mafia may be behind the murders.

Nearly 18,000 people are still missing from the ethnic wars fought in the former Yugoslavia, the International Committee of the Red Cross said Thursday to mark the International Day of the Disappeared. It is vital, a spokesman said, that "the families' right to know the fate of their loved ones be upheld." Many of the missing may have been thrown in unmarked graves after mass executions.

A new German ban on smoking on trains takes effect Saturday in one of the more cigarette-friendly countries in Europe.

Kenyan architect Jim Archer, with UN help, has spent eight years developing a prototype "community cooker" that uses garbage as fuel, Reuters reports. Much of the rubbish that goes uncollected in large African slums can be burned when the cooker's temperature reaches more than 600 degrees C. A Kenyan supermarket chain has pledged to fund at least 20 more of the cooking devices.

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