PAKISTAN VIOLENCE: Pakistani officials say at least 20 people were killed today in two suicide bombings targeting Pakistan's military in Rawalpindi, outside the capital, Islamabad. Army spokesman Wahid Arshad says a car bomber detonated explosives when he was stopped for an identity check outside army headquarters in Rawalpindi. Arshad says the bomber was killed, and two people were injured in that blast. The spokesman says most of the casualties came from a second blast that ripped through a bus as it traveled between Rawalpindi and Islamabad. Police say passengers on that bus work for the nation's Inter-Services Intelligence Agency.
PAKISTAN: Aides close to Pakistan's former prime minister Nawaz Sharif say the exiled leader is set to return to Pakistan before Monday's registration deadline for parliamentary elections. Senior leaders of Mr. Sharif's Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz party say the former prime minister and members of his family will arrive in the eastern city of Lahore on Sunday. His planned return from Saudi Arabia is prompting Pakistani opposition leaders to plan new strategies for the upcoming January eighth elections.
AFGHAN VIOLENCE: Afghan officials say several schoolchildren were among those killed today when a suicide bomber detonated explosives near a group of Italian soldiers who were constructing a bridge. Authorities say six people were killed and nine were wounded in the blast outside the capital, Kabul. Four Italian soldiers were among the injured, and the Italian military says one was critically hurt. This year, suicide bombers have carried out more than 130 attacks in Afghanistan, and more than six thousand people have died in insurgency-related violence.
AUSTRALIA - ELECTION: Australian Prime Minister John Howard has conceded defeat in national elections, ending more than 11 years in office. In a speech at his election headquarters today, Mr. Howard said he phoned his opponent, Labor Party leader Kevin Rudd, to wish him well. He said he was turning over to Mr. Rudd an Australia that was stronger, prouder and more prosperous than it was 11-and-a-half years ago. Exit polls indicate Labor will win 53 percent of the vote, while Mr. Howard's conservative coalition had 47 percent.
LEBANON POL: Lebanon's pro-Western Prime Minister, Fuad Siniora, is seeking to quell fears of a power vacuum, following the departure from office of his rival, pro-Syrian President Emile Lahoud, without a successor. Mr. Siniora said today his government will continue to function according to the constitution. He added that its main goal is to complete the presidential election process. The Lebanese parliament failed once again to appoint a new head of state Friday. Before leaving office, Mr. Lahoud declared a state of emergency and ordered the army to take charge of the nation's security.
BANGLADESH STORM: At least three people died and 100 were injured today in Bangladesh when a bridge collapsed under the weight of cyclone survivors. A large crowd had gathered on the bridge in Patuakhali district as desperate people waited for the arrival of relief supplies. The bridge gave way, collapsing into a river. Today's incident strikes a vulnerable population that is still reeling from Cyclone Sidr, which hit Bangladesh more than a week ago. The storm killed more than 35-hundred people and displaced at least two million others. Many survivors face disease and starvation.
ASIA - TYPHOON: Philippine officials say thousands of people are pouring into evacuation shelters today as Typhoon Mitag bears down on the eastern Philippines. Forecasters say Mitag has sustained winds of 175 kilometers per hour with gusts up to 210 kilometers per hour. Authorities are urging thousands of people in the northern provinces of Aurora and Isabella to evacuate immediately. The Philippine government is trying to avoid a repeat of a disaster in Bicol province a year ago, when mud flows triggered by Typhoon Durian killed 12-hundred people.
BURMA - BIRD FLU: Officials in Burma say a new outbreak of bird flu has been detected among chickens in an eastern district near the Chinese border. The state-run New Light of Myanmar newspaper said today that the outbreak was found at a farm in Kentung township in eastern Shan state on November 18th, after a farmer reported an unusual number of deaths in his chickens. Officials culled an unknown number of birds at the farm. A statement from the Myanmar Livestock and Veterinary Department urged people to prevent the entry of poultry and birds from neighboring countries into Burma.
CHINA - WU YI: One of the most powerful women in the world, China's Wu Yi, says she will retire in a few months. Wu is China's top trade official, as Beijing haggles with major trading partners on issues from product quality to stealing foreign designs to alleged unfair manipulation of the nation's currency. She has a reputation as a tough negotiator with a deep grasp of the details on complex issues. U.S. Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson called her a "force of nature," and a major U.S. business magazine lists Wu as the second-most powerful female in the world (behind German Chancellor Angela Merkel).
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