Afghanistan: U.S. and Afghan officials say at least eight Afghan civilians were killed in a gun battle between American troops and militants who ambushed a U.S. convoy.
The U.S. military says the ambush Sunday near the eastern city of Jalalabad was a complex attack, in which a suicide car bomber rammed the convoy before other militants opened fire.
U.S. military officials say American troops returned fire in self defense. Afghan witnesses and police say U.S. troops fired on civilians, killing and wounding people.
U.S. officials say it is not clear whether the civilians were killed by American troops or the militants.
An Afghan Interior Ministry spokesman (Zemarai Bashary) also told the French news agency today (Monday) it is not clear exactly how the civilians died.
Afghan President Hamid Karzai condemned the incident today (Monday) and ordered an investigation.
Iraq: Iraqi police say a car bomb killed at least 26 people today (Monday) in a crowded market in central Baghdad.
At least 54 people were injured in the blast in the Mutanabi book market. The explosion sent a huge pillar of black smoke into the sky as a fire spread through vehicles and book shops.
Iraqi and U.S. forces are in the third week of a major security crackdown in Baghdad aimed at stemming sectarian violence.
An increase in the number of troops on the streets appears top have reduced daily killings.
A U.S. military official in Iraq (Lieutenant General Raymond Odierno) said Sunday on CNN that Iraqi and U.S. forces have arrested more than 700 members of the Mahdi Army in the last few weeks.
Iran Nuclear: Key members of the U.N. nuclear agency are expected this week to approve cuts of more than 20 technical aid projects to Iran, as Tehran defies U.N. demands to suspend its sensitive nuclear work.
The 35-nation board of the International Atomic Energy Agency plans to begin discussing the cuts at a meeting today (Monday) in Vienna.
Meanwhile, six world powers are still trying to reach consensus on widening sanctions on Iran for its failure to comply with a February 21st U.N. Security Council deadline to suspend uranium enrichment. The United States said it had expected a resolution to be finalized during a Saturday conference call with representatives of Britain, France, Russia, China and Germany, but the talks failed to produce an agreement. A State department spokesman says the six nation talks on the Iran resolution will continue at the U.N. in New York.
World Stocks: Asian stock markets suffered more losses today (Monday), extending a global sell-off that began last week.
Japanese investors sold heavily on concerns about the stronger yen and a potential slowdown in U.S. economic growth. Tokyo's Nikkei Index closed down three-point-four percent - a two-month low.
The yen is at a three-month high against the dollar, undercutting the earnings of Japanese exporters in overseas markets.
Hong Kong's Hang Seng Index plunged four percent, its biggest one-day percentage decline in three and a half years. Dealers blamed the drop on big declines in other markets and on fears that China will place new restraints on its expanding economy.
Elsewhere, indices lost four percent in Manila, three percent in Taipei, and two percent in Seoul and Sydney. Stock markets in Shanghai and Wellington fell one-and-a-half-percent.
China has announced plans to increase military spending by nearly 18 percent, to nearly 45-billion dollars this year.
A spokesman for the National People's Congress (,Jiang Enzhu,) told reporters today (Sunday) the funds will be used to upgrade equipment and technology, and to increase wages and benefits for the People's Liberation Army.
The increase is larger than the 10- to 15-percent annual growth of the Chinese defense budget in recent years. However, the Chinese government says it should not be seen as a threat to any other country.
U.S. Deputy Secretary of State John Negroponte, who is visiting Beijing, called on China to be more transparent about details of its military buildup.. He said Washington is less concerned about the level of spending than about Beijing's failure to explain how it will use the money.
Listen to our World News for details.