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Suspected Al Qaeda terrorists killed at least 13 people Saturday in one of their worst assaults in Iraq since the US troop surge began. The attack on a town 45 miles north of Baghdad forced hundreds of people to flee. But elsewhere in Diyala Province, US and Iraqi forces, aided by local tribesmen, freed four towns from Al Qaeda control, killing 10 terrorists and seizing a reported 100 barrels of explosives.

An assault by Turkey's forces on Kurdish rebel bases in northern Iraq inflicted "heavy losses" and was within his nation's rights, President Abdallah Gul said Sunday.Military spokesmen said roughly 100 special forces crossed the border after spotting a rebel unit 12 miles inside Iraq. Turkey's parliament authorized such operations in October, although the US and Iraq have urged against them. Kurdish rebel leaders denied that a raid had taken place.

Across Russia, people complained of being pressured to vote Sunday in what elections observers said appeared to be an organized campaign to produce a landslide victory for President Vladimir Putin's party. The election was seen as a referendum on Putin's two terms in office, and his United Russia movement was considered certain to win. But opponents said they'd been told of people being given already marked ballots to submit, of being ordered by their bosses to vote or be fired, and of being paid cash to go to the polls.

A setback in disabling North Korea's Yongbyon nuclear reactor means the process cannot be completed by year's end as originally projected,reports said Sunday. Japan's NHK news service said it had been told by technical experts that safety concerns will limit the number of fuel rods to be pulled from the reactor to 100 a day, pushing completion to at least late February.

No government officials in Sudan would comment Sunday on the possibility that a British teacher might be pardoned for allowing students to name a teddy bear for the prophet Muhammad. Last week, Gillian Gibbons was ordered to jail for 15 days in a case that has become an embarrassment for President Omar al-Bashir. Her safety then became a concern after thousands of Sudanese rallied in the capital, Khartoum, demanding her execution. Critics say the rally couldn't have taken place without the government's assent. A delegation of Muslim women from Britain's House of Lords was in Sudan, appealing for Gibbons's release. Above, a fellow Muslim protests the sentence outside Sudan's Embassy in London.

Local politicians in eastern Cuba insisted they'd nominate Fidel Castro to be a candidate for the National Assembly as usual when they caucus Sunday. But it was unclear whether he'd use his parliamentary status to stand in January as a candidate for the Council of State, whose chief serves as national leader. Veteran Cuba-watchers say it's possible that Castro, who hasn't been seen in public since July 2006, might accept election only to the assembly, effectively signaling that he's giving up the presidency he has held since 1959.

After a five-year delay, Europe's first permanent science laboratory in space appears ready for launch Thursday, reports said. The 23-foot-long, $1 billion-plus Columbus module will lift off from Cape Canaveral, Fla., and become a part of the International Space Station, ending an era in which Europeans had to borrow facilities owned by the US to run their experiments. European scientists say the laboratory is as much a matter of pride as it is of scientific prowess.

Would-be Prime Minister Yves Leterme of Belgium abandoned efforts to cobble together a coalition government and handed his resignation to King Albert II. Leterme (l.), whose Flemish Christian Democrats won the most votes in last June's election, had been wooing three other parties to join in governing. But he conceded Saturday that they couldn't all agree on devolving increased power to the Dutch- and French-speaking regions.

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