Iraqi officials say a car bomb has exploded south of Baghdad, killing at least seven people and injuring at least 12 others. Police say the vehicle blew up early today (Friday) in a crowded vegetable market in the town of Hilla, 100 kilometers south of Baghdad. The attack came one day after three car bombs killed at least 60 people in the town of Balad, just north of Baghdad.
Government ministers in southeast Asia have endorsed a U.N. plan to combat the spread of bird flu, in the hope the deadly virus can be contained before it becomes a worldwide health catastrophe. Members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, meeting today (Friday) in the Philippines, also called for "an all-out, coordinated regional effort" against the dangerous form of bird flu that has been moving across Asia for the past two years.
Meanwhile, the U.S. Senate has approved legislation allocating up to four-billion dollars to fight bird flu by stocking up on anti-viral drugs. The Senate measure passed Thursday also commits money to increase global surveillance of the disease.
A Japanese high court has ruled that Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi's visit to a controversial war shrine is unconstitutional. The Osaka High Court said today (Friday) that Mr. Koizumi's worshipping at the Yasukuni shrine was a public act, and therefore violated the constitutional separation of state and religion.
Thousands of students and workers have taken to the streets across Indonesia for a second day to protest fuel price hikes that go into effect Saturday. Full details of the price increases are not yet known, but ministers say they expect gasoline, diesel fuel and kerosene prices could climb by at least 50 percent. Tens of thousands of Indonesians have been waiting in lines at gasoline stations (since Thursday) to fill vehicles and gas cans with fuel before the hikes take effect.
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