There has been a sharp decline in terrorist violence across Iraq, the Pentagon insisted in a new report, despite the deaths of at least 26 more people in attacks Tuesday. US military officials, however, disputed Iraqi claims that 16 others were killed when a roadside bomb exploded beside a passing bus. The Associated Press reported that the average number of deaths in Iraq has risen from 26 a day in February to 39 so far this month. But a US spokesman said over the weekend that "one week or two weeks' worth of activity" should not be seen as evidence of a "trend of an increase."Skip to next paragraph
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Cellphone service providers in Afghanistan are bowing to Taliban demands and shutting down for the night, the BBC reported, after another communications tower was found ablaze late Tuesday. The incident was the 10th of its type in recent weeks, since the Taliban claimed Afghan and NATO forces were using the cellphone systems to track their movements after dark. Cellphones are the only reliable means of communication for many Afghans.
Over the next five years, Turkey's government will spend up to $12 billion on a strategy to lure young Kurds away from militancy, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan told The New York Times. In an interview published Wednesday, he said the money will be spent on a jobs program in impoverished and mainly Kurdish southeastern Turkey, on building dams and irrigation canals, removing land mines, and on developing a Kurdish-language channel for the state TV system. A separatist campaign by Kurdish rebels has caused almost 40,000 deaths since 1984.
Leaders of the Greek and Turkish communities on Cyprus will meet for the first time next week on reviving efforts to unite the divided island again, aides said. The talks are scheduled for Friday at UN offices in the buffer zone between the two areas. Peace talks stalled in 2004 when Greek Cypriot voters rejected a UN formula for reunification that Turkish Cypriots had accepted. But newly elected Greek Cypriot President Dimitris Christofias vowed to make a meeting with his Turkish counterpart, Mehmet Ali Talat, one of his earliest priorities.