An American soldier and at least 20 civilians were killed Thursday in eastern Afghanistan when a terrorist triggered a car bomb beside a busy livestock market. The blast also wounded 74 people, many of them seriously, authorities said. More Americans have died in Afghanistan this year than in any other since US-led forces toppled the Taliban regime in late 2001.
Unidentified gunmen kidnapped an Iranian diplomat and shot his police guard to death in the volatile city of Peshawar, Pakistan, Thursday. Iran's Foreign Ministry demanded that the seven-month-old Pakistani government work for the diplomat's safe return as soon as possible. The incident came one day after an American employee of a humanitarian aid group was murdered in the city and two months after gunmen seized Afghanistan's ambassador-designate. The latter is still missing. Peshawar, once considered safe for foreigners, lately has found itself on the front lines of Islamist militancy.
Amid gloomy economic news on all fronts, Germany has slid into its worst recession in more than a decade, reports said Thursday. Analysts projected that the situation would decline further as Europe's largest economy absorbs the effects of the global financial crisis. The contraction was driven by a falloff in exports, leading to an accompanying drop in factory output. Siemens, the engineering conglomerate and one of the nation's largest employers, said it plans to cut 16,750 jobs by 2010.
Communications giant BT said Thursday it will add to Britain's fast-growing unemployment ranks by eliminating 10,000 jobs between now and year's end. The formerly state-owned company reported an 11 percent drop in pretax profits over the first six months of 2008 and said, "We have to become leaner." BT is the fourth major employer to announce job cuts this week. In the quarter ending Sept. 30, Britain's unemployment rate reached an 11-year peak, at 1.82 million people.
At least nine more people were hurt in Haiti's capital Wednesday when walls and a ceiling of their school collapsed, the second such accident in less than a week. The number of casualties might have been higher if many of the students hadn't been outside at recess. Last Friday, 93 people died and 160 others were injured as a school in suburban Petionville collapsed. Shoddy construction was blamed, but the area also has been soaked by recent heavy rains and was battered by hurricanes over the summer, which may have weakened both structures.
An Austrian who made global headlines last spring for imprisoning his own daughter and fathering her seven children has been charged with murder, prosecutors said Thursday. Retired electrician Joseph Fritzl "deliberately decided not to intervene" when one of the children developed "a life-threatening" condition in infancy, according to a 27-page complaint that also indicts him for rape, incest, false imprisonment, and slavery. His trial is expected to begin early next year.