TURKEY - QUAKE: A strong earthquake has shaken several villages in eastern Turkey, destroying homes and killing at least 57 people. Turkey's Kandilli Observatory says the magnitude 6.0 quake struck the province of Elazig early Monday at 4:32 a.m. local time. It was centered near the town of Karakocan. The quake toppled stone and mud-brick homes, and brought down minarets of mosques in several villages. Rescuers tried to free people trapped in the rubble. More than 70 people were injured and rushed to hospitals in cars and ambulances. Turkish aid workers distributed relief supplies to residents.
PAKISTAN BLAST: Pakistan police says a powerful suicide car bomb attack has rocked the eastern city of Lahore, killing at least 11 people and wounding at least 60 others. Hospital officials say a woman and a child are among those killed in the attack. The Monday morning rush hour explosion left a large crater outside the Federal Investigation Agency, which houses the main police investigation offices. No one has claimed responsibility for the attack. Pakistan authorities say several other buildings were damaged in the blast.
US - AFGHANISTAN: U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates arrived in Kabul Monday where he is scheduled to talk with his top military commanders and senior Afghan officials.
The trip to Afghanistan is Gates first since the start of President Barack Obama's surge of 30,000 forces. Gates acknowledged recent gains against the Taliban, including a push to take control of the Taliban stronghold of Marjah.
However, the defense secretary was cautious about being too optimistic about recent positive developments, saying there are still "very hard days ahead" in the fight against the Taliban. Gates also warned Iran about offering help to the Taliban. Gates said Iran should understand that the U.S. reaction would not be one that Iran "would want to think about."
NIGERIA - VIOLENCE: Witnesses in central Nigeria say at least 200 people were killed Sunday in a burst of Muslim-Christian violence. However, a Nigerian state governor's advisor says at least 500 people died. In a telephone interview, Dan Manjang, an advisor to the Plateau state government, also says 95 arrests were made since violence broke out. Officials say nomadic herdsmen attacked three villages near the city of Jos around 3 a.m. local time Sunday, setting homes on fire and attacking people with knives and machetes.
Reporters later counted more than 100 corpses in the village of Dogo Nahawa, while another 18 bodies were taken to a morgue in Jos.
Witnesses say most of those killed were women and children.
KOREAS - MILITARY: The U.S. and South Korea have begun joint military exercises, a day after North Korea denounced the drills as attack preparations and warned it would boost its nuclear arsenal in response. The joint U.S. and South Korean forces command said Monday about 18,000 U.S. soldiers and more than 20,000 South Korean troops are taking part in the annual exercises, which it described as purely defensive. The North's official Korean Central News Agency Sunday cited a senior military official as saying the drills would cause the process for the denuclearization of the Korean peninsula to come to a standstill. The North also said it will no longer be bound by the armistice that ended the 1950-53 Korean War. The warnings come as diplomatic efforts continue to revive stalled talks on ending North Korea's nuclear weapons program.
THAILAND POL: Thailand's government says it plans to invoke a tough security act giving the military broad powers to deal with mass rallies next Sunday by supporters of fugitive former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra. Deputy Prime Minister Suthep Thaugsuban said Monday he will ask the Cabinet Tuesday to invoke the Internal Security Act, which permits the army to help the police, and gives authorities power to impose curfews and ban gatherings. The rally on March 14 is to be led by the pro-Thaksin United Front for Democracy against Dictatorship, or UDD, known for wearing red shirts. Mr. Thaksin used his Twitter (online) page Saturday to call on his supporters to join the mass rally. He urged his supporters to work for democracy, justice and equality in Thailand.
IRAQ - ELECTION: Iraqis defied insurgent attacks that killed 38 people Sunday to vote in parliamentary elections the United States is calling an important milestone in Iraqi history. The vote was the second national election in Iraq since U.S.-led forces ousted Saddam Hussein in 2003. Early results will not be available for days. U.S. President Barack Obama said Iraqis took a step forward to build up their country, despite facing threats of violence. He praised Iraqi security forces for protecting voters at the polls. Iraq's Shi'ite prime minister, Nouri al-Maliki, faces tough competition in the race from former Shi'ite allies, as well as Sunni and Kurdish politicians.
No party is expected to win an outright victory, so the new government likely will be a coalition.