World

Six bomb attacks in Baghdad Thursday killed at least 17 people on the day designated for the US-led coalition to hand over control of the country's armed forces to Iraqi authorities. The transfer is viewed as a major step in Iraq's independence. Several bombings Thursday targeted police patrols, which also are assuming more responsibility for daily security.

Embattled British Prime Minister Tony Blair refused to set a specific date for his resignation, but said Thursday that he would depart within a year. The announcement came during a week marked by turmoil in Blair's Labour Party, in which loyalists have raised concerns about his Middle East policies and his slide in the polls. Expected successor Gordon Brown, the Treasury chief who reportedly has argued privately with Blair, said he would support the prime minister's decisions.

European Union lawmakers demanded that their governments reveal the location of secret CIA prisons, which President Bush has confirmed the agency used in interrogating dozens of terror suspects in Europe. "We need to know if there has been any complicity in illegal acts," said Wolfgang Kreissl-Doerfler, a German member of the European Parliament committee investigating allegations about the prisons.

Slovakia's new prime minister, Robert Fico, responding to rising ethnic tensions between his country and Hungary, pledged Thursday to clamp down on political extremism and punish all attacks on ethnic minorities. The vow came during Fico's meeting with EU and NATO officials in Brussels.

A fire aboard a Russian nuclear submarine that killed two crew members was put out before any threat of nuclear contamination, Russian news agencies said Thursday. The reactor on board the Daniil Moskovsky sub, which plies Russia's northern and Arctic waters, was shut down automatically, according to reports, but not in time to save the crew members whose deaths were blamed on carbon monoxide poisoning.

Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, who has a commanding lead in the polls in his reelection bid, accused opposition candidates of receiving secret funding from the US government ahead of the Dec. 3 presidential election. Although chief opponent Manuel Rosales has said he'll meet with US officials, he claims to be free of American influence. Meanwhile, US Embassy spokesman Brian Penn rebutted Chavez, saying, "We do not support political candidates."

Indonesian judges sentenced two Islamic militants Thursday for their roles in helping the alleged masterminds of the 2005 Bali bombings that killed 20 people. Mohammad Cholili, who helped assemble circuits for backpack and motorcycle bombs, was given 18 years in prison, while Dwi Widiarto was sentenced to eight years. Widiarto, who prepared farewell videotapes for the suicide bombers and set up a hate website, reportedly received a lighter sentence because he's shown remorse. One of the alleged masterminds of the attackers is still at large, while the other was shot dead during a police raid.

Thousands of people were evacuated from the center of Potsdam, Germany, Thursday while an unexploded 550-pound American bomb from World War II was defused and removed. The bomb was found on a construction site earlier this week.

Sudanese editor Mohamed Taha, whose decapitated body was found dumped on a dirt road a day earlier, was laid to rest Thursday in Khartoum. Last year Taha's decision to reprint articles questioning the roots of the prophet Muhammad drew protests from Islamic groups. Taha's slaying has raised concerns about a new brand of extreme violence in Sudan.

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