Iraq's Sunni Arab vice president on Sunday demanded more prisoner releases and compensation for former detainees as some 200 inmates were freed in a bid by the Shiite-led government to promote national unity. The detainees being released Sunday from US-run prisons around the country were among at least 2,000 detainees that Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki has promised to release by the end of this month - a total that would be the largest such release since the US-led invasion in March 2003. The first batch of 594 was freed Wednesday.
US reservists preparing for war games in Ukraine left the exSoviet state on Sunday amid protests and political uncertainty, casting doubt on whether the exercises would take place. Small but noisy groups of pro-Russian protesters have hounded the 200 US servicemen during their stay in the Crimea peninsula to prepare for the Sea Breeze 2006 exercise in July. Parliament must approve the presence of foreign troops for the exercises to proceed as part of pro-Western President Viktor Yushchenko's long-term plan to join NATO.
Al Qaeda in Iraq vowed Sunday to carry out "major attacks," insisting in a Web statement that it was still powerful after the death of leader Abu Musab al-Zarqawi. The statement did not name a successor to Zarqawi, who was killed by a US airstrike Wednesday. But it said the group's leadership "renews its allegiance" to Osama bin Laden. The authenticity of the statement could not be independently confirmed. It was posted on an Islamic militant Web forum where the group has posted statements in the past.
Afghanistan President Hamid Karzai Sunday denied reports that he is forming militia forces in the country's south to fight the Taliban, but said that security forces there would be bolstered by new recruits from local tribes. Karzai's comments came amid the biggest resurgence of the Taliban since their ouster from power in 2001. More than 500 people, mostly militants, have been killed in the past three weeks, underscoring the threat to this country's future.
European Union enlargement and the bloc's future will dominate Monday's meeting of EU foreign ministers with Turkey to find out if it can conclude its first detailed round of entry negotiations, and with Croatia and Albania to discuss their progress toward membership. The foreign ministers are also to formally recognize Montenegro's independence after the former Yugoslav republic held a referendum to split from its union with Serbia last month. Recognition will pave the way for the tiny Balkan country to develop bilateral diplomatic relations with the 25 EU members.
Riot police in Bangladesh's capital fired bullets and tear gas Sunday at thousands of stone-throwing protesters demanding the prime minister resign, wounding more than 200 people, witnesses and news reports said. The alliance, led by former Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, accuses the government of corruption and authoritarianism, and of trying to use the election commission to guarantee victory in the next election, due in January 2007. The government denies the charges.
A massive blast of searing gas has collapsed a portion of Mount Merapi's unstable lava dome in Indonesia, easing pressure that threatened a full-blown eruption, but the volcano still could be deadly, a scientist said Sunday. Vulcanologist Antonius Ratdomopurbo warned that Merapi's 250,000 beleaguered villagers weren't in the clear just yet, as a crack in the lava dome's southern foot had widened, threatening more powerful surges of superheated gas.
President Fidel Castro called the US airstrike that killed Abu Musab al-Zarqawi a "barbarity," saying he should have been put on trial.