Spain began three days of mourning Thursday for 153 people who died when a jetliner crashed shortly after takeoff in the nation's worst air disaster in nearly 25 years. Only 19 people survived the runway inferno that followed Wednesday's crash of a Spanair plane bound for the Canary Islands. The takeoff had been delayed to fix a problem with an overheating air intake gauge that measures temperatures outside the plane, but investigators haven't determined if that was a factor in the crash.

The US is close to a deal to keep American troops in Iraq beyond 2008, US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said Thursday after flying to Baghdad on an unannounced visit. She emphasized, however, that any timetable for troop withdrawals must be "feasible." The deal's terms are politically sensitive in both countries, with Iraq keen to show that 144,000 US troops will not stay longer than needed, but the Bush administration intent on responding to "conditions on the ground."

Twin suicide bombings at a massive government weapons factory near Pakistan's capital killed at least 50 people Thursday, dashing hopes for an end to turmoil following Pervez Musharraf's ouster as president. The Taliban claimed responsibility for the blasts 20 miles west of Islamabad.

Iran's space agency aims to send an astronaut to space within 10 years, state TV said Thursday, providing no details.

A truck carrying illegal Afghan immigrants in Iran overturned in southern Iran, killing 29 migrants and injuring 67 others, Iranian state TV reported Thursday. Iran is a major route and destination for human trafficking. The country also has one of the worst road safety records in the world.

A German ship seized off the coast of Somalia Thursday was the third hijacked in a day and the fourth this week in the Gulf of Aden, which connects the Red Sea and Indian Ocean, officials of the International Maritime Bureau reported. The attack occurred hours after a Japanese-operated tanker and an Iranian ship were hijacked in the same area. Such piracy often is used to demand a ransom for the release of a ship's crew.

Greenpeace activists blockaded the headquarters of India's Tata Group, a rapidly growing international business, in Mumbai Wednesday, demanding that the company halt construction of a port in Orissa. Greenpeace claims the port would kill rare Olive Ridley turtles and other marine life. Above, a protester linked with pipes to fellow activists strains to resist efforts of police and security officials to break up the group.

Mexican cement maker Cemex SAB is vowing to seek World Bank arbitration over Venezuela's move to nationalize its local cement plants this week. The company says Venezuela's $650 million buyout offer significantly undervalues its business, plus is a "flagrant violation" of the country's expropriation laws.

Zimbabwe opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai said Thursday that if Parliament was convened next week, mediators would have to deal with a violation of the agreed framework for power-sharing talks. Both sides are under major pressure from both within Africa and around the world to reach an agreement that would delineate the roles of president and prime minister in the new government and pave the way for rebuilding Zimbabwe's devastated economy, now suffering inflation of at least 11 million percent.

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