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Suicide bomber kills 8, wounds 18 in mosque

BAGHDAD (AP) -- A suicide bomber disguised as a worshipper blew himself up inside a Shiite mosque north of this capital city Thursday and killed eight people, a police spokesman said, shattering a period of relative calm across the country.

Eighteen people were wounded in the blast in the city of Balad Ruz, 45 miles north of Baghdad, said the police spokesman, Maj. Ghalib al-Karkhi. There was no immediate claim of responsibility, but Sunni militants have often targeted Shiite mosques as a way to incite sectarian violence.

Most of the dead were worshippers at the mosque.

Al-Karkhi said the suicide bomber was dressed in an abaya, a long black cloak, and a black turban in order to mingle with worshippers inside the Imam al-Hussein mosque.

The black turban is usually worn by Shiite Muslims who are direct descendants of Islam's Prophet Muhammad. Such people are usually treated with great respect within the Shiite community and as such the bomber was not searched going into the mosque, al-Karkhi said.


Warden, 9 others face charges in prison break

KABUL, Afghanistan -- Afghan authorities have arrested the warden and other officials at the Kandahar prison where nearly 500 insurgents managed to escape this week through a tunnel built by the Taliban, officials said Thursday.

Ghulam Dastagher Mayar was among 10 officials arrested at Sarposa Prison, about half of those on duty at the time of the prison break that began late Sunday, according to Gen. Amir Mohammad Jamshidi, the country's chief director of prisons.

Afghanistan's justice minister has said the Taliban must have received inside help from prison officials to pull off the spectacular escape, a 4 1/2 -hour operation that failed to raise any alarm among the guards.

Escapees' accounts have varied. Some claimed to have received help from "special friends" to obtain keys to their cells. Others have said the cells were routinely left unlocked at night by their guards, who generally gathered at the main gate, out of sight of the cellblocks.

-- Los Angeles Times


2 convicted of killing rights lawyer, reporter

MOSCOW (AP) -- Two Russian nationalists were convicted Thursday of killing a prominent human rights lawyer and a reporter, who were gunned down in a brazen daytime attack in central Moscow more than two years ago.

After deliberating late into the night, a City Court jury convicted Nikita Tikhonov, 31, and his girlfriend Yevgenia Khasis, 26, in the January 2009 killing.

Investigators said Tikhonov was the masked gunman, while Khasis followed the two victims, Stanislav Markelov and Anastasia Baburova, as they left a news conference and walked toward a subway station near the Kremlin.

Markelov's work had angered nationalists, who had threatened him and cheered his killing in Internet comments. The lawyer also had made enemies through his work fighting for victims of rights abuses in Chechnya.

Investigators said Baburova was shot because she was a witness to the murder.

Tikhonov faces up to life in prison, while Khasis could be imprisoned for 20 years.

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