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Briefs (left)

Afghan Suicide Bombs Kills 18,
Including 4 Canadian Soldiers

By Carlotta Gall
and Abdul Waheed Wafa

Afghanistan was hit by three devastating suicide bomb attacks on Monday, killing 18 people and wounding more than 60, many of them children, in one of the country’s worst days of violence against civilians.

Four Canadian soldiers were killed in one explosion, when a suicide bomber on a bicycle set off a bomb as the soldiers were handing out gifts to children in a village in southern Afghanistan.

Eleven other soldiers were wounded as well as 27 villagers, many of them children, local government officials said.

The bombing was in the southern village of Char Kota, in Pashmul, one of the areas that NATO troops had only just wrested from the control of Taliban fighters after two weeks of heavy fighting.

The NATO commander in Afghanistan, Lt. Gen. David Richards, declared victory in the area on Sunday, saying that NATO had taken control of the area and had forced out the remaining Taliban fighters.

Pope’s Regrets Over Statement Fail
To Quiet a Storm of Protests

By Ian Fisher

Many Muslims insisted Monday that Pope Benedict XVI did not go far enough in his apology on Sunday for the offense caused by a speech he gave last week that discussed Islam and holy war.

In the southern Iraqi city of Basra, protesters burnt an effigy of the pope, and an Iraqi group linked to al-Qaida posted a warning on a Web site threatening war against “worshippers of the cross.”

The supreme leader in Iran, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, called the pope’s remarks “the latest link” in the “chain of conspiracy to set off a crusade.”

And, as a Vatican official said its ambassadors would seek to better explain the pope’s statement, a Turkish man with a fake gun tried to storm a Protestant church in Turkey’s capital, Ankara. He was arrested after worshippers trapped him in the church entryway.

Apart from the continuing anger at the pope’s speech, in which he cited a medieval passage that called Islam “evil and inhuman,” the debate on Monday seemed to turn on whether the pope had actually apologized.

Man Charged With Smuggling
Asian Cats in a Carry-On

By Jennifer Steinhauer

Long before there were snakes on a plane, there were leopards in a carry-on and monkeys down a pair of pants, according to a federal indictment handed down in Southern California on Monday.

Chris Mulloy, a 45-year-old Palm Springs man, was arrested on charges related to the smuggling of two Asian leopard cats into the Los Angeles International Airport in 2002 after he returned from Asia. According to the indictment, Mulloy came into the United States with concealed leopards and passed them off to his sister, Darlah Kaye Mulloy, who was also named in the indictment, with the goal of getting them out of the airport undetected.

When questioned by officials from the federal Fish and Wildlife Service, Mulloy said he possessed no animals, even though he “well knew that statement was false, in that defendant knew that he possessed two protected Asian leopard cats (Prionailurus bengalensis) when he entered the United States,” according to the indictment.

One of the cats is now living in Orange Country and the other lives in Texas.