Pope – Islam: Pope Benedict says he "deeply regrets" the angry reaction of Muslims provoked by comments he made last week that were deemed offensive to Islam.
The pope said today (Sunday) that his remarks during an academic speech last Tuesday in Germany were quotations from a medieval text and do not in any way express his personal opinion.
Muslim political and religious leaders throughout the Middle East and South Asia denounced the pope's earlier speech and demanded an apology. There have been demonstrations and some incidents of violence.
Benedict says his speech was intended as an invitation to open a "sincere and frank" dialogue between Christianity and Islam, with mutual respect.
Iraq: Iraqi police say a suicide bomber has exploded a truck in the northern city of Kirkuk, killing at least 18 people and wounding 55 others. The attack was one of a series of deadly bomb blasts in the city today (Sunday).
Iraqi officials say a gunman in the truck fired at civilians before the vehicle exploded outside a police center. Many of the casualties were inside the center.
The attack was also near offices of the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan, the political party of Iraqi President Jalal Talabani.
Authorities say three other bombs exploded in Kirkuk, including two that targeted police patrols. At least four other people were killed, including civilians.
Afghanistan: A suicide bomber has targeted a convoy of Canadian troops in southern Afghanistan, while American and Afghan troops mount a new offensive against Taleban insurgents in the east.
Afghan police say the bomber killed himself and a civilian in the city of Kandahar today (Sunday). The explosion hurt five passersby, and slightly wounded three soldiers with the NATO-led force. A military vehicle was damaged.
U.S military officials say seven-thousand soldiers are involved in a new offensive (called Operation Mountain Fury) in five provinces of eastern Afghanistan (Ghazni, Khost, Logar, Paktika and Paktia). The NATO alliance says a similar operation in southern Afghanistan has killed more than 500 insurgents since early September.
Israel – Lebanon Inquiry: Israel's Cabinet has approved the creation of a government commission to investigate the conduct of the month-long war with Hezbollah militants in Lebanon.
The commission will be led by a retired judge (Eliyahu Winograd) and will investigate the decisions of Israel's political and military leaders.
Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert has faced strong criticism in Israel for accepting a ceasefire without crushing Hezbollah or freeing the two soldiers captured by the group.
But, Mr. Olmert rejected demands by Israeli army reservists to set up a more powerful state commission of inquiry that can recommend the dismissal of government officials. The Israeli leader says such an inquiry would be too time-consuming.
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