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By Compiled from wire service reports by Robert Kilborn / February 25, 2008



At least 40 people were killed and 60 others were hurt Sunday when a terrorist exploded a bomb among pilgrims pausing for refreshments en route to a Shiite Muslim festival in Kerbala, Iraq. The attack took place in Iskandariya, 25 miles south of Baghdad.

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Contrary to reports, Kenya's political rivals are still divided over the question of a power-sharing government, a negotiator for President Mwai Kibaki said Sunday.The reports had said that the two sides had progressed to discussions on allocating which ministries each would control. An opposition spokesman said he would have no immediate reaction to the comment. Both sides have said they hope for a final agreement early this week.

An alert bus passenger helped to avert major casualties in a suburb of Sri Lanka's capital Saturday by spotting a bomb moments before it exploded. The driver and conductor ordered the vehicle evacuated, and, while 18 people were injured in the blast, there were no deaths. The bus was destroyed in the attack. The explosion was blamed on Tamil separatist rebels. Above, police in the capital stop a bus for inspection Sunday following the blast.

To the cheers of thousands of supporters, hard-line President Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe kicked off his campaign for reelection, ridiculing one of his two challengers as a "frog" and the other as a "puppet." With the inflation rate at 100,580 percent, Mugabe urged other candidates of the ruling ZANU-Popular Front to tell "the truth" about Zimbabwe's economic crisis. But he said he is confident of victory when voters go to the polls March 29. He has held the presidency since 1980.

A "permanent" cease-fire was signed over the weekend by rebels and the government of Uganda and will take effect 24 hours after the two sides conclude a final peace agreement, reports said.A negotiator for the government said only the issue of disarmament remained to be discussed and that the accord should be completed by Friday. Last week, the Lord's Resistance Army and the government agreed on how to prosecute alleged war criminals and on rehabilitating areas devastated in the 22-year conflict.

Exit polls pointed to a probable victory for Communist Party leader Demetris Christofias in Sunday's presidential runoff on Cyprus. Christofias was leading rival Ioannis Kassoulides by a 50.8 percent to 49.2 percent margin. If final results confirm his election, he'd become the first communist to lead the divided island and the only such head of state in the European Union.

Warning that "our response will be resolute and harsh," outgoing President Robert Kocharian of Armenia accused the opposition of trying to seize power via its daily protests against last week's national election. But defeated presidential candidate Levon Ter-Petrosian denied the accusation, and diplomats based in the capital, Yerevan, expressed dismay at Kocharian's words. The protests, which have attracted as many as 50,000 people have been peaceful, although organizers vow that they'll continue until a new election is scheduled.

A Virgin Atlantic jumbo jet flew from London to Amsterdam on a partial load of biofuel Sunday in what's believed to be the first demonstration of its kind.One of the four tanks on the Boeing 747 carried a coconut-babassu oil mixture, as technicians monitored whether the flight produced less carbon dioxide than would a jet burning normal kerosene fuel. A Virgin Atlantic spokesman said no modifications were necessary to the engines. No passengers were aboard the flight.

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