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Safety worries disrupt Pakistani region’s work force

Safety worries disrupt Pakistani region’s work force

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ISLAMABAD — Hundreds of tribal police in the northwestern Khyber region have quit their jobs because of militant threats, even as Pakistani forces reported killing 22 insurgents in an ongoing military operation there, officials said Saturday.

Pakistan is under intense U.S. pressure to crack down on al-Qaida and Taliban militants along the Afghan border. Khyber is of particular concern because militants there frequently attack trucks carrying supplies destined for U.S. troops in Afghanistan.

Cuba mourning death of Castro’s close confidant

HAVANA — Juan Almeida Bosque, a comrade-in-arms of Fidel Castro since the start of his guerrilla struggle more than a half-century ago, has died of a heart attack. The 82-year-old was one of several Cuban vice presidents and had been among only three surviving rebel leaders who still bore the honorary title “Commander of the Revolution.”

A statement in government media on Saturday said Almeida will “live on forever in the hearts and minds of his compatriots.” It said Almeida died around 11:30 p.m. Friday night in Havana.

Cuba declared a national day of mourning for today and ordered all flags flown at half-staff.

Temblor off Venezuelan coast causes few injuries

CARACAS, Venezuela — An earthquake shook Venezuela’s capital and nearby states Saturday, injuring 14 people and causing damage to a few buildings.

The U.S. Geological Survey reported a preliminary magnitude of 6.4 for the quake, saying the epicenter was off Venezuela’s Caribbean coast 65 miles west of Caracas.

Israeli president faints,

is hospitalized overnight

JERUSALEM — Israeli President Shimon Peres was rushed to the hospital Saturday night after he fainted on stage while speaking at an event in Tel Aviv. He regained consciousness shortly afterward but is being held overnight for observation. Peres was answering questions from the crowd after a talk on young leadership when he passed out, paramedics told Israeli media.

The 86-year-old regained consciousness on his own a few seconds later, they added.

Bombings at Iraqi shrine leave four dead, more hurt

BAGHDAD — Two bombs exploded back to back near a Shiite shrine in central Baghdad where worshippers had gathered in prayer Saturday, killing four people and injuring 24, police and hospital officials said.

The first bomb went off next to the tomb of a revered ninth century religious figure, Sheik Othman al-Omari. Then a car bomb exploded in a nearby parking lot as crowds were gathering. The blasts damaged the shrine and blew out the windows of neighboring buildings.

Attacks blamed on al-Qaida in Iraq and other Sunni extremists are again targeting Shiite civilians.

— Wire Reports

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