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AROUND THE WORLD

Strikers protest plan to raise retirement age

PARIS (AP) -- Trains stood still and children played instead of studied as workers around France went on strike Thursday to protest President Nicolas Sarkozy's plan to raise the retirement age by two years to 62.

Neighboring countries suffered along with Paris commuters, as walkouts by railroad engineers delayed or canceled trains from Italy and Switzerland. Some flights were dropped or delayed.

Boisterous crowds of protesters filled Marseille's port and wide Paris avenues, as unions staged nearly 200 marches in several cities over a broad reform of the money-losing pension system, part of efforts around Europe to cut back on growing public debts.

"Sarkozy, Don't Touch our Pensions!" read one banner at the Paris march, near a cardboard coffin marked: "Here lies Roger. He's 60, and he died before getting his retirement."

Police say 47,000 people marched in the French capital, while the powerful CGT union put the number at 130,000.

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Arab youths attack Jewish dance group

BERLIN (AP) -- Arab youths threw stones at a Jewish dance group during a street festival in Hannover, injuring one dancer and forcing the group to cancel its performance, German police and dance officials said Thursday.

The teenagers also used a megaphone to shout anti-Semitic slurs during the attack Saturday, Hannover police spokesman Thorsten Schiewe said.

"I don't remember such a dramatic attack in Germany in recent times," said Michael Fuerst, head of the Jewish community in the state of Lower Saxony.

Six suspects have been identified -- five Arab immigrants and one German -- and police are looking for three others, police said. The six range from 9 to 19 years old and have been questioned by police.

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Bomb kills top aide at police ministry

ATHENS, Greece (AP) -- A bomb disguised as a gift exploded inside the police ministry on Thursday night, killing a high ministerial aide in Greece's highest profile attack in years.

Public Order Minister Michalis Chryssohoidis, who was in his office a few yards from the blast, said the package had been intended for him. Pale and visibly shaken, but otherwise unharmed, he told reporters he had "lost a valuable and beloved associate."

No one claimed responsibility for the bombing, which killed police officer Giorgos Vassilakis, 50, a father of two. But suspicion fell on radical Greek militant groups opposed to government economic and social policies in the face of a financial crisis.

"I express my pain and exasperation -- pain and exasperation that every Greek citizen feels over today's terrorist attack," Prime Minister George Papandreou said.

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