• WORLD IN BRIEF

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    US DIPLOMATS INTERVIEW BOSTON SUSPECTS’ PARENTS
    MOSCOW: A delegation from the US embassy in Moscow has traveled to the Russian North Caucasus region of Dagestan to interview the parents of the Boston marathon bombing suspects, an embassy official said on Wednesday.

    The parents of Tamerlan and Dzhokhar Tsarnaev are currently living in Dagestan, an overwhelmingly Muslim region on the Caspian Sea where the family briefly lived before leaving for the United States. The trip by the US delegation to Dagestan comes amid mounting questions in the United States about whether the US authorities misses crucial signals that should have raised suspicion about the two brothers before the bombings.

    54 KILLED IN IRAQ PROTESTS
    KIRKUK, Iraq: A wave of clashes and attacks involving Iraqi security forces, protesters and their supporters on Tuesday left 54 people dead and prompted two Sunni ministers to quit, sending tensions soaring. The unrest, which also included the kidnapping of a soldier by armed protesters, was the deadliest so far linked to demonstrations in Sunni areas that erupted more than four months ago. The protesters have been demanding the resignation of Shiite Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki and railing against the alleged targeting of their community by the authorities.

    UNREST IN CHINA’S XINJIANG KILLS 21 PEOPLE
    BEIJING: Twenty-one people, including police officers and social workers, were killed in violent clashes in China’s ethnically divided western region of Xinjiang, a local official said Wednesday. “Twenty-one persons were killed in all . . . including social workers and policemen,” an official surnamed Cao from the provincial government’s news office said of the incident, which, he added, occurred on Tuesday. Gun fights broke out in Bachu county in the west of the province after police went to search the home of locals suspected of possessing illegal knives.

    BOMB ATTACKS WOUND 17 IN PAKISTAN
    QUETTA, Pakistan: Bomb attacks wounded 17 people in Pakistan on Wednesday and targeted an election candidate in the run-up to historic general elections in the nuclear-armed country, police said. The first attack wounded 13 people near a Shiite Muslim mosque and a private hospital in Pakistan’s southwestern city of Quetta, police said. The bicycle bomb exploded in the Satellite Town area of Quetta, the capital of the oil and gas-rich province of Baluchistan, which borders Afghanistan and Iran. In the northwestern city of Peshawar, police said another bomb wounded four people outside the home of a local leader in the Pakistan People’s Party, which is seeking re-election at the ballot box on May 11 after five years in power. A third bomb hit the convoy of an election candidate, Israr Ullah Gandapur, seeking re-election as an independent. There was no immediate claim of responsibility.

    SAUDI TO RETAIN BAN ON NON-MUSLIM PLACES OF WORSHIP
    Ultra-conservative Saudi Arabia will retain its longstanding ban on non-Muslim places of worship, Justice Minister Mohammed al-Issa said in comments reported by the Saudi media on Wednesday. As Saudi Arabia is “home to the Muslim holy places, it does not allow the establishment of non-Muslim places of worship,” the Al-Hayat newspaper quoted Issa as telling European MPs in Brussels. Saudi Arabia, home to the holy Kaaba—the cube-shaped structure at the Grand Mosque in Mecca towards which Muslims worldwide pray—has come in for repeated criticism for its ban on non-Muslim places of worship. Although Saudi Arabia’s citizen population is Muslim, the kingdom is also home to millions of expatriates of various beliefs.

    INDIAN MAN HELD FOR SELLING BABY GRANDSON ON FACEBOOK
    NEW DELHI: Police in northern India said Wednesday they had arrested a 47-year-old man for selling his newborn grandson to a local businessman in a deal that was struck on Facebook. Feroz Khan, a resident of Ludhiana city in the northern state of Punjab 300 kilometers (200 miles) from New Delhi, had allegedly kidnapped his grandson shortly after he was born earlier this month. Khan sought help from two temporary employees at a local hospital where his daughter gave birth, who contacted the buyer on Facebook and arranged the deal for 45,000 rupees ($830). Police have rescued the baby and returned him to his mother, Noori Khan, a divorcee, who had lodged the complaint against her father. The three accused have been charged with kidnapping and they will be produced before a court on Wednesday. If proven guilty, they could be jailed for seven years.

    INDONESIA TEENS ACCUSED OF BLASPHEMY OVER MAROON 5 DANCE
    TOLITOLI, Indonesia: Five Indonesian teenage girls have been accused of blasphemy and may face jail after making a video in which they mixed Islamic prayer with dancing to a Maroon 5 song, police said Tuesday. The girls were expelled from their high school in Tolitoli City, on Sulawesi island and reported to police after the video of their dance to the US band’s hit “One More Night” went viral online. In the five-minute clip, the girls, wearing school tracksuits, switch between Islamic prayer rituals and mostly innocent dancing, with the occasional pelvic thrust and suggestive hand gesture thrown in. Several versions of the video on YouTube have been viewed more than 500,000 times. AFP

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