Iraq: Witnesses say violence erupted in the Iraqi holy city of Karbala today (Tuesday) where hundreds of thousands of Shi'ite pilgrims have gathered for a major religious festival.
They say gunfire echoed through the city center and pilgrims were seen running in all directions.
There were no immediate reports of casualties.
In the past gunmen disrupted the two-day annual Shi'ite festival marking the birth of Mohammed al-Mahdi, the 12th and last Shi'ite imam.
Authorities have imposed strict security measures throughout the city ahead of this year's celebration.
Monday, devotees angry over the restrictions clashed with police, who responded with gunfire. Officials say at least five people were killed and more than 20 wounded.
In other news, the U.S. military said Iraqi and coalition forces have killed 33 insurgents in a joint operation north of Baghdad. A military statement today (Tuesday) said the operation reopened a major irrigation canal that had been seized by gunmen and also recovered three caches of weapons, ammunition and explosives.
Pakistan Hostages: Pro-Taleban militants in Pakistan say they have freed 19 hostages kidnapped in two incidents near the Afghan border earlier this month.
Pakistani authorities said all 19 surviving hostages were handed over to tribal elders today (Tuesday) and were being taken to the region's main town of Wana to be handed over to government officials.
Sixteen paramilitary soldiers disappeared on August ninth wile traveling to a military base in South Waziristan in Pakistan's northwestern tribal region.
The militants beheaded one of the soldiers on August 14th and distributed a video of the execution, which was carried out by a teenage boy.
Greece Fires: Greek firefighters joined by colleagues from Israel and around Europe are using water-dropping planes and helicopters to try to gain the upper hand on wildfires burning for a fifth day.
Numerous fires in the mountainous southern peninsula of Peloponnese are not yet under control today (Tuesday).
Police have charged seven people with arson and are offering a one-point-four million dollar reward for information leading to more arrests.
A Greek prosecutor is checking whether police can use the broader powers of anti-terrorism and organized crime laws to investigate arson suspects.
The fires have killed at least 63 people since last Thursday and wiped out thousands of hectares of forests and olive groves. Hundreds of villages have been evacuated.
China - Germany: German Chancellor Angela Merkel has met with Chinese journalists and researchers as she pushes for Beijing to better respect human rights.
Ms. Merkel told a group of researchers in Beijing today (Tuesday) the world will be watching China more intensely than ever before ahead of next year's Beijing Olympics. She said freedom of speech and the press in China will be particularly scrutinized.
Earlier, she met with a group of Chinese journalists, including one (Li Datong) who was dismissed from his editing position after angering authorities.
Western countries have criticized China for its media censorship and harassment of journalists and minority and religious groups.
Burma Protests: Witnesses in Burma's largest city, Rangoon, say security forces have detained protesters who were demonstrating against a sharp increase in fuel prices.
They say plainclothes police broke up the protest in northern Rangoon today (Tuesday). At least 30 people had joined the demonstration. It is unclear how many were arrested.
The protest is the latest in a series of street rallies and marches against the military-run government. The action has centered in Rangoon but spread to other parts of the country.
Security forces have rounded up at least 50 activists, and undercover police have maintained a strong presence in Rangoon since last week.
The protests are a bold move in the police state, where more than 12-hundred activists are imprisoned.
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