IRAQ: U.S. Vice President Dick Cheney has made an unannounced visit to Baghdad for talks with Iraqi leaders on efforts to end violence in the country. Cheney met with the commander of U.S. troops in Iraq, General David Petraeus, shortly after arriving in the Iraqi capital today, which marks the start of his tour of the Middle East. In violence today, Iraqi authorities say at least 19 people were killed and more than 70 wounded in a truck bomb blast in the northern city of Irbil.
AFGHANISTAN: The governor of the southern Afghan province of Helmand says foreign forces have killed 21 civilians in an air strike there. The governor says women and children were among the victims in the overnight raid in Sangin district. A U.S. military spokesman today said militants were killed in the attack. He could not verify whether civilians were killed. Meanwhile, the U.S.-led coalition says one of its soldiers was killed Tuesday night in Sangin, a Taleban stronghold and the heart of Afghanistan's opium-producing region.
NIGERIA - KIDNAPPINGS: Oil industry officials say gunmen have kidnapped four U.S. oil workers from a barge off the coast of southern Nigeria. The workers were kidnapped late Tuesday when gunmen raided the barge near the Escravos oil export terminal. The barge is operated by U.S. contractor Global Industries, working for oil giant Chevron. Kidnappings of foreign oil workers have become common in Nigeria's oil-rich Niger Delta region.
EAST TIMOR - ELECTIONS: Vote counting has begun in East Timor's presidential run-off election, which the country hopes will bring peace following last year's violence and political turmoil. The two candidates vying for the largely-ceremonial post are the current Prime Minister, Jose Ramos-Horta, and former resistance fighter Francisco "Lu Olo" Guterres. U.N. officials say today's vote went smoothly with no reports of violent incidents. Preliminary results are expected by Friday.
THAILAND - VIOLENCE: Thai police say a roadside bomb has killed seven soldiers in southern Thailand, in one of the deadliest attacks on Thai security forces this year. Police say suspected insurgents detonated the bomb today near an army pickup truck in (the Rangae district of) Narathiwat province. The blast happened several hundred meters away from a school. An Islamist rebellion in Thailand's three southernmost provinces has killed more than two-thousand people since early 2004.
PHILIPPINES VIOLENCE: Philippine authorities say the death toll from a bombing on the southern island of Mindanao has risen to eight. The bomb exploded in a billiards hall at a market in Tacurong city Tuesday, killing several people instantly and wounding about 30 others. Officials said today that some of the wounded died overnight. The Philippine military says it suspects the bombing was the work of Jemaah Islamiyah, a Southeast Asian terrorist group linked to al-Qaida.
CHINA - TAINTED PET FOOD: Authorities in China have detained the managers of two companies that exported contaminated animal feed ingredients blamed for the deaths of dogs and cats in the United States. China's quality control watchdog said today the two companies illegally added the chemical melamine to wheat gluten and rice protein to make the ingredients appear more protein-rich. Melamine is used in plastics, fertilizers and flame retardants. It can be deadly to animals when added to food.
FRANCE ELECTION: French officials have reported a third night of small-scale violence after the election of conservative Nicolas Sarkozy as president. The head of the defeated French Socialist Party, Francois Hollande, appealed for calm Tuesday, saying the only way to react to anger, disappointment and frustration is through the ballot box. France will hold legislative elections next month that will determine whether Mr. Sarkozy will have the parliamentary majority needed to push through his programs.
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