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News update

Saturday, March 24

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Editor's Note: The CNN Wire is a running log of the latest news from CNN World Headquarters, reported by CNN's correspondents and producers, and The CNN Wire editors. "Posted" times are Eastern Time.

Woman killed, several injured in Japan earthquake

TOKYO (CNN) -- One woman was killed and several people were injured Sunday when a 6.7-magnitude earthquake rattled an area in north-central Japan, a government spokesman said.

The spokesman said the quake, which was measured by the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS), was centered at Hokuriku, and a task force had been formed to assess damage.

The National Earthquake Information Center under the USGS said the epicenter was located 50 miles north of Kanazawa, and 205 miles northwest of Tokyo.

Initial reports on the quake's magnitude hovered in the 7.0 range because, according to Dale Grant with USGS, the data "saturated" nearby measuring stations and produced a higher reading when it first struck at 9:40 a.m. Sunday (Saturday 8:41 p.m. ET).

(Posted 1:55 a.m.)

Jamaican police question three Pakistani cricket team members

KINGSTON, Jamaica (CNN) -- Jamaican police questioned three key members of the Pakistani cricket team Saturday in the investigation into the death of their coach last weekend, the Jamaican deputy police commissioner said.

Mark Shields told a news conference that police had follow-up questions aimed at clearing up some ambiguities in their original statements to police two days ago.

Shields' briefing was held at the Pegasus Hotel in Kingston, where police said 58-year-old Coach Bob Woolmer was found dead in his room last Sunday.

Those questioned were team Manager Talat Ali, team Captain Inzamam-Ul-Haq and player and Assistant Coach Mushtaq Ahmed, Shields said.

The cricket contingent, which traveled to Montego Bay on Thursday, was allowed to leave Jamaica after the sessions with police. The team and those traveling with them left for London en route to Pakistan. (Posted 8:25 p.m.)

U.N. Security Council approves new sanctions for Iran

NEW YORK (CNN) -- Iran's foreign minister rejected a unanimous vote by the 15-member U.N. Security Council Saturday to impose new sanctions on Iran because of its refusal to suspend its uranium enrichment program.

Speaking in measured tones after the vote, Iranian Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki said, "Iran presents no threat to international peace and security, and therefore falls outside the council's charter mandate."

"As we have stressed time and again, Iran's nuclear program is completely peaceful."

Mottaki spoke in place of Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who was unable to travel to New York for the vote on Resolution 1747 because his flight crew did not receive their U.S. visas in time.

Despite his denial that the Security Council has any power over Iran, Mottaki offered hope that the impasse can be resolved. (Posted 6:15 p.m.)

Protestant party wants delay in Northern Ireland power-sharing deal

BELFAST (CNN) -- Monday's deadline for creation of a Catholic-Protestant power sharing government in Northern Ireland will apparently be missed.

The pro-British Democratic Unionist Party is asking for a six-week delay before it joins the pro-Irish Sinn Fein in a new government, according to Democratic Unionist Party officials.

The British government had offered financial incentives for the protestant DUP and the Catholic Sinn Fein to meet the March 26 deadline for a power-sharing executive branch of the government.

DUP officials said they would issue a public statement outlining their reasons for a delay, which include giving them time to make sure conditions are right for acceptance of a power-sharing arrangement. (Posted 6:14 p.m.)

Iran report: Detained British confess to trespassing

TEHRAN (CNN) -- The British government put pressure on local governments in the Middle East Saturday in attempts to free 15 British troops seized by Iran in the Persian Gulf on Friday, the foreign office told CNN.

Iran has accused the British of crossing illegally into their territorial waters. On Saturday the eight Royal Marines and seven Royal Navy Sailors were brought to Tehran to explain their "aggressive behavior," the semi-official FARS News Agency reported.

FARS and IRNA -- the state-run Iranian news agency -- both reported that the British sailors and marines have they confessed to trespassing into Iranian waters, but the British Ministry of Defence would not confirm the report. The British government said its request to communicate with the detained troops has not been granted by Iran. (Posted 11:29 a.m.)

Suicide bombers kill 38, wound 63 in three Iraq attacks

BAGHDAD (CNN) -- Three suicide bombings in Iraq killed at least 38 people, including 13 Iraqi police officers, and wounding another 63 people Saturday, according to Iraqi officials.

A suicide bomber wearing an explosives vest exploded himself inside a pastry shop in Tal Afar Saturday afternoon, killing at least 10 people and wounding three others, according to Tal Afar Mayor Najam Abdullah.

A suicide bomber driving a truck packed with explosives detonated near the Imam Mahdi Shiite mosque in a shopping section of Haswa, a town about 30 miles south of Baghad Saturday afternoon, killing eight people and wounding 34 others, according to Hilla police.

A suicide bomber speeding towards an Iraqi police station in a truck exploded himself Saturday morning, killing at least 20 people and wounding 26 others in southern Baghdad's Dora District, a Baghdad police official told CNN. Thirteen police officers were killed and 15 were wounded -- along three detainees, the official said. (Posted 11:25 a.m.)

Democrat radio address defends House vote on Iraq withdrawal

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- Democrats used their weekly radio address to defend House passage this week of the U.S. Troop Readiness, Veterans' Health, and Iraq Accountability Act, which sets a date for the withdrawal of U.S. troops from Iraq.

"This legislation is critical," said Rep. Paul Hodes, D-NH. "First, we support our troops by providing needed funding for their equipment and protection. But this bill is not a blank check to fund the war in Iraq. It requires that the Iraqis meet the benchmarks for success that the President himself outlined in January..."

After taking control of both houses of Congress this year Bush has criticized Democrats for playing politics with the safety of American troops, a contention that Hodes rejected.

"With our vote this week, we're helping our troops, protecting our veterans, and fighting to end the waste, fraud and abuse," the freshman New Hampshire representative said. The four-year-old war in Iraq, "has cost us dearly in lives and dollars," he said. (Posted 11:17 a.m.)

Attorney firings, Iraq and pork topics of Bush radio address

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- President Bush used his weekly radio address on Saturday to take swipes at Congressional Democrats over three hot political topics.

Bush said the opposition party's insistance on having top White House aides testify under oath about their parts in the firing of 8 U.S. Attorneys is delaying other important votes on funding troops in Iraq.

The president also took Democrats to task for inserting what he called "pork barrel" spending in the emergency war spending bill.

"This spending includes things like $74 million for peanut storage, $25 million for spinach growers, and a host of other spending items that have nothing to do with the war," Bush said.

Bush said he would veto measures to compel his aides to testify under oath or to tie troop withdrawl timelines to war funding. (Posted 11:12 a.m.)

Two U.S. soldiers killed in Iraq

BAGHDAD (CNN) -- A U.S. soldier was killed when a roadside bomb exploded as he was walking in a security patrol south of Baghdad Friday, according to the U.S. military.

Another soldier assigned to Multi National Force-West died Friday while conducting combat operations in Al Anbar province, the military announced Saturday.

The names of the deceased were withheld by the military. The death toll for U.S. military personnel in the 4-year-old Iraq war is 3,235. (Posted 10:01 a.m.)

Iran not releasing British marines; British government seeking help from neighboring countries

TEHRAN (CNN) -- The British government put pressure on local governments in the Middle East Saturday in attempts to free 15 British Royal Marines seized by Iran in the Persian Gulf on Friday, the foreign office told CNN.

Iran has accused the marines of crossing illegally into their territorial waters.

Meanwhile, Iran's semi-official FARS News Agency reported the marines have been brought to Tehran and are expected to explain their "aggressive behavior." The foreign office declined to comment on that report.

The British Ministry of Defense said the marines were routinely inspecting a merchant vessel when they were surrounded and "seized" by the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps Navy. (Posted 7:11 a.m.)

Al Qaeda - linked terrorist group claims responsibility for attack on Iraq's deputy prime minister

BAGHDAD (CNN) -- A terrorist group linked to al Qaeda on Saturday claimed responsibility for the assassination attempt launched against Iraqi Deputy Prime Minister Salam al-Zubaie on Friday and warned of future attacks on other "traitors."

In a statement posted to an Islamic extremist Web site, the Islamic State of Iraq said their group was "able to target (al-Zubaie) in his house."

Al-Zubaie was wounded and nine people were killed when a suicide bomber self-detonated inside the minister's compound shortly after Friday prayers, a security adviser said on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak to the media.

The adviser said the attacker was a friend of one of al-Zubaie's guards and had been invited to the compound in central Baghdad where al-Zubaie lives and works, but the suspect was not among the worshippers.

-- CNN's Mohammed Tawfeeq and Basim Mahdi contributed to this report (Posted 5:38 a.m.)

New document raises questions about Gonzales' participation in attorney firings; DOJ announces internal probe

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- A newly released document raises more questions Attorney General Alberto Gonzales' participation in the process of firing U.S. attorneys late last year.

The document -- a page from Gonzales' calendar -- is one of 283 pages released by the Justice Department late Friday.

The document indicates a Nov. 27, 2006, meeting in which the rollout of the general plan for carrying out the dismissals was discussed, Justice Department officials told reporters Friday.

The officials said that the participants in the meeting -- which included Gonzales and his chief of staff, Kyle Sampson -- do not remember if the final list of attorneys to be fired was signed off at the meeting.

The officials contend that Gonzales' attendance at this meeting is not contradictory to what he has previously said -- that he was not involved in the details of the firings or in selecting the specific prosecutors.

Also on Friday, the Justice Department announced that two internal watchdog offices will investigate the firings of the eight U.S. Attorneys "although there is no evidence to suggest" any U.S. attorney was dismissed for improper reasons.

-- From CNN's Kevin Bohn and Carol Cratty (Posted 9:45 p.m.)


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