Aide to Radical Cleric Sadr Held Over Killing of 5 U.S. Soldiers

IRAQ NEWS

U.S. Says It Nabs Iraq Insurgent Leaders

The U.S. military said Thursday it had captured the leaders of a Shiite insurgent network responsible for kidnapping and killing five American troops one of the boldest and most sophisticated attacks on U.S. soldiers in the war in Iraq. (AP)

Official: Iraqi Govt, Insurgents Talking

The government has been indirectly talking to several Sunni insurgent groups over the past three months in a bid to persuade them to lay down their arms and join the political process, a senior government official said Thursday. (AP)

U.N. Chief Visits Baghdad for Talks

U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon held talks in Baghdad on Thursday with Iraq's prime minister just as his government disclosed that it had been in indirect talks with Sunni insurgent groups over the past three months to persuade them to lay down their arms. (AP)

PAKISTAN

Pakistan Test Fires Nuke-Capable Missile

Pakistan on Thursday successfully test-fired a nuclear-capable cruise missile with the capability to avoid radar detection, the military said. (AP)

U.S.

Criminal Charges Expected Soon Against Former Reagan Aide Stockman

Securities fraud charges are expected to be made public as soon as next Monday against former Reagan White House Budget Director David Stockman, officials involved in the investigation tell ABC News. (ABC News)

Sex Assault Reports Rise in Military

Reports of sexual assaults in the military increased by about 24 percent last year and more than twice as many offenders were punished. There were nearly 3,000 sexual assault reports filed in 2006, compared with almost 2,400 the previous year, a Pentagon report said Wednesday. Action was taken against 780 people, from courts-martial and discharges to other administrative remedies. (AP)

AFGHANISTAN

21 Taliban Killed by Afghan Forces

Fighting between Afghan forces and Taliban militants in a volatile southern province on Thursday left at least 21 militants and three Afghan police dead, officials said. (AP)

Afghan Hostage Deal Is Condemned

The US and UK have criticised a deal made with the Taleban by Italy and Afghanistan to secure the release of a kidnapped Italian journalist. (BBC)

NORTH KOREA

North Korea Nuclear Talks Break Down

Talks on halting North Korea's nuclear program broke down abruptly on Thursday with the country's chief nuclear envoy flying home after a dispute over money frozen in a Macau bank could not be resolved. (AP)

LEBANON

Bomb Defused at University in Beirut

Police defused a small bomb at the American University of Beirut on Thursday in what appeared to be the latest of a series of attempts to cause explosions in Lebanon, security officials said. (AP)

IRAN

6 World Powers Seek New Iran Sanctions

Six powers seeking new sanctions against Iran hoped to persuade all 15 nations on the U.N. Security Council to back the proposed punitive measures. (AP)

U.K.

Attacks 'Bigger Than 7/7 Planned'

One of the 21 July bombing suspects planned "bigger and better" attacks than those on 7 July, a jury has heard. (BBC)

Arrests at "Illegal Passport Factories"

London police arrested 22 people in a crackdown on illegal passport factories and suppliers, Scotland Yard said on Thursday. (Reuters)

MOROCCO

Bombers Planned To Blow up Ships in Morocco -Papers

At least 12 would-be suicide bombers planned to blow up foreign ships at Casablanca port and other Moroccan landmarks, top security officials were quoted as saying on Thursday. (Reuters)

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