Taliban remnants took heavy casualties in a series of engagements with coalition forces across Afghanistan Wednesday night and Thursday. In all, the radical Islamist group, which recently began a new challenge to Afghanistan's experiment with democracy, lost as many as 87 fighters - almost half of them in an attack on a government headquarters in southern Helmand Province. Twenty-seven more died in a clash in neighboring Kandahar Province. Coalition losses were put at 15 Afghan soldiers, one Canadian, and two civilians. The Canadian soldier was a woman, whose death came as her government voted narrowly to approve a two-year extension of the mission in Afghanistan.
A special session of parliament is to convene Saturday in Baghdad to consider Prime Minister-designate Nouri al-Maliki's nominees for the first full-time unity government of Iraq since the fall of dictator Saddam Hussein. Maliki, a Shiite, has until Monday to announce his cabinet choices, each of which must be confirmed by an absolute majority of legislators. An aide said Maliki needed only to fill the posts of interior and defense ministers but would announce his nominees even "if an agreement is not reached" - suggesting to analysts that he'd appoint himself to fill them temporarily.
Mexico's leaders scorned the bill passed by the US Senate for new border fences, maintaining that such a measure won't solve the problem of illegal immigration or enhance regional security. Senior legislators blasted the bill as "a step backward in bilateral relations." Leftist presidential candidate Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador also slammed incumbent Vicente Fox for not taking a stronger stand against the proposed use of National Guard troops on the US side of the border.
For the second time in less than a week, the streets of Cairo were the scene of violent confrontations between police and activists demonstrating in support of two judges who criticized Egypt's electoral process. At least 240 members of the Muslim Brotherhood were arrested, although the organization claimed the number was twice that high. The Brotherhood, although officially banned, forms the largest opposition bloc in parliament. As the violence raged outside, a disciplinary tribunal dismissed charges against one of the judges but reprimanded the other.
Human rights activists heaped criticism on police in Brazil's largest state, complaining that they were responding to the latest wave of violence by shooting first and asking questions later. The activists said innocent people may have been hurt as law-enforcement agencies in São Paulo killed as many as 33 presumed gang members in confrontations that were still occurring Wednesday night. Critics also expressed surprise that the state's governor turned down offers of federal help to restore control. Forty of the more than 150 people killed since the trouble erupted May 12 were police.
The impact of typhoon Chanchu on southern China "was pretty major," officials said after the storm lashed the region, killing at least 11 people and forcing the evacuation of more than 1 million others. Property damage assessments were not yet being reported. The storm was picking up speed as it veered back out to sea toward Shanghai, China's commercial capital. Chanchu is the most powerful typhoon yet recorded in the region in any month of May, but meteorologists said that didn't necessarily portend an unusually severe storm season.
Whether tiny Montenegro becomes another independent European state or remains in an uneasy union with Serbia will be put to the test Sunday as voters weigh a referendum whose outcome appears uncertain. Montenegro is dwarfed by Serbia, whose population is almost 13 times larger. But it maintains its own currency, and its leaders complain that Serbia's failure to hand over indicted fugitive Ratko Mladich to the UN war-crimes tribunal for the Balkans. has caused their economy to suffer. The European Union has suspended negotiations on membership for the two republics until Mladich is in the tribunal's custody.