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Thursday, May 10

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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.

North Florida wildfire spreads, threatens major interstate

(CNN) -- A quickly spreading wildfire in north Florida threatened I-10, a major interstate, early Friday, prompting hundreds of evacuations north of Lake City, Fla.

C.J. Norvell of the Southern Area Incident Management Team said the Bugaboo Scrub Fire has burned more than 45,000 acres, with the southwestern edge of the burn pushing into an area bound by Interstate 10 to the south and U.S. Highway 441 to the west.

The fire actually began on Bugaboo Island in Georgia's Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge, but strong winds Tuesday pushed the flames into Florida where it burned through Baker County and then into Columbia County. Osceola National Forest straddles both counties. (Posted 1:21 a.m.)

Brush fire closes on Santa Catalina Island resort community

LOS ANGELES (CNN) -- A wind-whipped brush fire on Santa Catalina Island off the coast of Southern California forced evacuations from the picturesque resort town of Avalon, casting an eerie orange glow over the harbor community.

According to Capt. Mike Brown with the the Los Angeles County Fire Department, the blaze had grown to 500 acres by Thursday evening as evacuation orders were put in place for the western side of the city. The fire broke out around midday.

At least 160 firefighters and six helicopters were working the fire, with more crews en route. (Posted 11:35 p.m.)

House passes new Iraq spending bill despite new veto threat

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- Defying a second veto threat from President Bush, the House of Representatives approved a $96 billion war spending bill Thursday night that would make continued funding of the war in Iraq dependent on a July progress report from the administration.

The 221-205 vote sends the bill to the Senate, where Republican and Democratic leaders have been trying to work out a compromise with the White House.

The bill would send the Pentagon about $40 billion up front and require the Bush administration to report on the progress of the war -- and on the progress of Iraq's government in reaching a political settlement of the conflict -- in July.

The House would then vote on whether to release the rest of the money, which the Bush administration says is needed to fund the 4-year-old war through the end of the current budget year in September.

Earlier, Democrats narrowly beat back a Republican amendment that would have lifted the restrictions in the bill. Rep. John Murtha, a leading critic of the war, said the amendment would have removed any leverage the bill would give the United States over the shaky Iraqi government. (Posted 8:07 p.m.)

Bangladeshi journalist arrested

(CNN) -- A Bangladeshi journalist was arrested and taken from his home Friday and is believed to be held by the army for unknown reasons, according to his wife.

Tasneem Khalil, who also works part-time for Human Rights Watch and as a stringer for several news organizations, including CNN, writes for the Dhaka-based Daily Star.

Khalil's wife telephoned CNN to say that men from an army intelligence unit arrested him early Friday.

In a statement, Khalil's wife said he was arrested by four men in plainclothes who said they were from "the joint task force." They refused to tell Khalil on what charges he was being arrested and cautioned him to be quiet "if you don't want anything else to happen," she said.

She said the men searched the house, taking Khalil's passport and cell phones, two desktop computers and "all the documents, notepads, piles of paper, CDs and everything. They took it all away."

The men allegedly took Khalil to the Sangsad Bhavan army camp, outside the parliament building in Dhaka. (Posted 7:33 p.m.)

Amid strained relations with Iran, Rice tries 'art of diplomacy'

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice held an extremely rare meeting with Iranians Thursday -- but politics was shoved out of the picture.

Rice attended an exhibit of young Iranian artists brought to the United States to show off their work as part of the Bush administration's cultural exchange program. The exhibit, titled "Wishes and Dreams, Iran's New Generation Emerges," opens Friday in Washington and will travel throughout for the country for the next three months.

In brief remarks Rice carefully avoided any reference to the rift between the United States and Iran, a rift that widened this week with the imprisonment in Tehran of a prominent American-Iranian scholar affiliated with prestigious Washington think tank.

Rice put the spotlight on the artists, most of them under 40, who she said are "making art a language of people who need to know each other and talk to each other." She praised them for "representing so well the great culture that Iran has ... so that the American people can see another side of Iran and to see what the artists of Iran are doing." --From CNN's Charley Keyes (Posted 6:30 p.m.)

House readies 2-part war spending bill despite new veto threat

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- Despite a new veto threat by President Bush, the House of Representatives is scheduled to vote on a new measure to pay for the 4-year-old war in Iraq in two stages late Thursday.

Unlike the bill Bush vetoed May 1, it does not set a date for the withdrawal of U.S. combat troops. But after meeting with the Joint Chiefs of Staff at the Pentagon on Thursday, Bush said he opposed any "haphazard, piecemeal funding" for the war.

"The American people must understand that if you fund our troops every two months, you're put in a position where we have to delay certain procurement or that military contracts must be delayed," he said. "There's a lot of uncertainty in funding when it comes to two-month cycles."

The plan would give the Bush administration about $40 billion of the $96 billion it seeks for the war up front. Congress would vote on authorizing the second half of the funds in July, after reviewing a report on the progress of the war and the Iraqi government's efforts to reach a political settlement to the conflict.

The House took up the bill Thursday evening, after voting down a plan pushed by some Democrats for pulling American combat troops out of Iraq within six months. The vote was 171-255. (Posted 6:11 p.m.)

Iraqi parliament votes to take legal action against Al-Jazeera

BAGHDAD (CNN) -- Iraq's parliament voted Wednesday to have its legal adviser prosecute the Arab language satellite network Al-Jazeera for "its violations and offending the Iraqis and their religious symbols."

The action comes a week after an Al-Jazeera talk show reportedly questioned the leadership credentials of Iraq's top Shiite cleric, Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani. The comments sparked mass Shiite demonstrations in several parts of the country.

The parliament also voted to have the Iraqi government take legal measures against any other satellite channel that does the same.

Qatari-funded, the online version of Al-Jazeera TV, reported that the Iraqi parliament's decision was unanimous. (Posted 6:05 p.m.)

Investigation into contaminated fish feed grows

(CNN) -- Federal officials said Thursday that the industrial compound melamine, which is suspected of causing the deaths of thousands of pets nationwide, has been found in fish feed at a hatchery in Oregon and may have been sent to nearly 200 other companies.

The feed, found at Marion Forks Hatchery in Idanha, Ore., was used as a "starter diet" for juvenile salmon and trout, said Dr. David Acheson, assistant commissioner for food protection at the Food and Drug Administration.

The Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife said it contacted the manufacturer, Skettring Co., and found that the same lot of feed was shipped to hatcheries in Willamette, Gnat Creek, Cole Rivers, Butte Falls and Leaburg, Ore.

"Hatchery managers immediately discontinued using any remaining fish feed from the lot in question and notified the FDA," the department said in a news release.

In all, Acheson said, Skettring has 198 domestic customers "that may or may not have received feed that contained the suspect lot." (Posted 5:29 p.m.)

Rice lobbies for Wolfowitz with European allies

WASHINGTON (CNN) --Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice has reached out to her European counterparts to voice her support for embattled World Bank President Paul Wolfowitz, the State Department said Thursday.

"Over the course of the past couple of weeks, in a couple of her conversations, in the course of her ongoing conversations with some of her counterparts, she mentioned her personal high regard for Paul Wolfowitz and the work he's doing at the World Bank," State Department Sean McCormack said Thursday.

McCormack said that Rice also "fully understood" that the administrative process under way at the bank "would follow according to the rules, regulations and procedures of the World Bank and has asked that Wolfowitz "receive every opportunity to present his side of the case"

A senior State Department official said Wolfowitz was not the main topic of Rice's conversations with European ministers and her comments did not amount to a "campaign" to keep Wolfowitz at the bank. --From CNN State Dept. Producer Elise Labott (Posted 4:57 p.m.)

2 CARE workers kidnapped in Somalia

(CNN) -- Two consultants working with the CARE aid organization on water projects in Somalia were kidnapped this week, the organization said Thursday.

CARE issued a release identifying the men as British and Kenyan, but said their names were being withheld until their families are notified.

"We have been informed that the men are unharmed and that village leaders are in discussions for their release," David Gilmour, who directs CARE projects in Somalia, was quoted as saying. "It is inadvisable for us to say anything else at this time to avoid exacerbating the situation. Our focus remains on a speedy and safe resolution for all concerned."

The two men were hired as surveyors a week ago for the construction of two jetties, in Hafun and Garaad, in the "relatively stable" Puntland area of Somalia, CARE said. (Posted 4:39 p.m.)

Report of boys in camouflage, ski mask prompt massive security alert at Boulder HS

(CNN) -- Taking no chances, Boulder, Colo., police Thursday were combing through every crevice of Boulder High School after a cafeteria worker said she saw two young males wearing camouflage -- one in a ski mask -- walking the hallways before the school was scheduled to open, police and school officials said.

The alert prompted school authorities to cancel classes for the day.

Boulder Police Chief Mark Beckner said police conducted an initial search to clear the building, then sent a SWAT team in for a more in-depth search. A third search was under way Thursday afternoon, with school administrators accompanying police to let them know if anything was out of place or suspicious.

The reported sighting occurred about 6 a.m. in a hallway, as the cafeteria worker left the kitchen area. She told police she did not see any weapons on the youths, who she described as high-school age, but said she did not get a look at the male who was not wearing a mask. (Posted 4:29 p.m.)

Judge bars alleged 'DC Madam' from distributing further phone records

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- The judge in the criminal trial of a woman accused of running a large-scale prostitution ring in the Washington area ordered her Thursday not to release any more of her phone records after inferring comments from her civil attorney were a threat to do just that.

U.S. District Judge Gladys Kessler's order applies to Deborah Jeane Palfrey and her civil attorney, Montgomery Blair Sibley.

Kessler determined that Sibley's May 6 letter to Attorney General Alberto Gonzales violated a March 22 order barring any "harassment" of "government witnesses, agents and investigators." --From CNN's Paul Courson (Posted 4:08 p.m.)

Andrea weakens to subtropical depression

MIAMI (CNN) -- Andrea, once a subtropical storm churning off the coast of Florida, was reclassified as a subtropical depression Thursday after its winds fell below the threshold for a storm, the National Hurricane Center said.

However, it still could produce some much-needed rain for coastal Florida and Georgia.

As of 11 a.m. ET, the center of Andrea was about 100 miles east-southeast of Jacksonville, Fla., and about 80 miles northeast of Daytona Beach, Fla. Its maximum sustained winds were about 35 mph, with higher gusts -- short of the 39 mph that would classify it as a subtropical storm. (Posted 2:26 p.m.)

Former Alabama trooper faces murder charges in civil rights-era killing

(CNN) -- A former Alabama state trooper has turned himself in to face murder charges in a 1965 killing that led to the Selma-to-Montgomery voting rights march later that year, the district attorney in Perry County, Ala., said Thursday.

James B. Fowler, 73, was released on $250,000 bond after surrendering to authorities in Marion, about 75 miles west of Montgomery, District Attorney Michael Jackson said. A special grand jury indicted Fowler on first- and second-degree murder charges Wednesday in the killing of Jimmie Lee Jackson.

"We think we have a strong case, and we look forward to presenting this to a jury," the district attorney, who is not related to the victim, told CNN. (Posted 2:21 p.m.)

Bush against 'piecemeal funding' for war, but supports benchmarks

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- President Bush said Thursday he will veto any bill from Congress with "haphazard, piecemeal funding," but agrees that setting benchmarks is a good way to evaluate the Iraq war's progress.

Bush said he has asked his chief of staff, Josh Bolton, to find common ground with Republicans and Democrats in Congress on benchmarks.

After Bush's veto of a measure calling for U.S. troops to leave Iraq by March 2008, Democratic leaders of the House of Representatives proposed a short-term spending bill that would fund U.S. combat operations into July and make further funding dependent on Iraq meeting benchmarks.

Bush stressed that he wants to see a bill that funds the war through September, the end of the federal budget year.

The president made his remarks after a meeting at the Pentagon with Defense Secretary Robert Gates and Marine Gen. Peter Pace, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. Joint Chiefs members also attended.

SEC warns of impostors claiming to be SEC examiners

NEW YORK ( -- The Securities and Exchange Commission has warned the securities industry about impostors trying to pass themselves off as members of the SEC staff, a release on the commission's Web site said Thursday.

Unknown individuals have demanded "immediate" access to confidential records, claiming, in some cases, they were conducting "emergency" examinations or they were gathering information for a well-known SEC official.

The SEC urges potential victims to ask for the caller's name, office and phone numbers and then tell them they will be called back. Would-be victims can then use the SEC's Web site to get information on calling the SEC's office to confirm that the person is legitimate.

The SEC also reminded would-be victims to not share any confidential information until the caller's identity is confirmed. (Posted 1:35 p.m.)

Giuliani stands by his view on abortion

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- Republican presidential hopeful Rudy Giuliani will fully outline his views on abortion prior to next week's GOP debate in South Carolina, Giuliani advisers told CNN Thursday.

The former New York City mayor's remarks will reassert his personal opposition to abortion, but also emphasize his support for a woman's right to choose, the advisers said.

Giuliani has come under fire for fumbling an answer he gave on this controversial issue during last week's Republican debate at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library.

One advisor, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, acknowledged that Giuliani was subject to sharp criticism for his handling of the question at the debate, but noted the campaign is confident that when given more time, Giuliani will be able to fully explain his position. --From CNN's Claire Brinberg (posted 1:23 p.m.)

Embrace car seat/carriers recalled to fix malfunctioning handle

NEW YORK ( -- A defect that can lead to infants falling out of Evenflo Embrace Infant car seat/carriers has forced a recall, the Consumer Product Safety Commission, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and Evenflo Company Inc. announced Thursday.

Evenflo said that when the device is used in the carrier mode the handle can unexpectedly release, causing the seat to rotate forward, and the infant to fall.

The units, manufactured in the United States and China, were sold nationwide through department and baby items stores from December 2004 through September 2006, according to a release from NHTSA.

The recall affects about 450,000 Evenflo Embrace Infant car seat/carriers made before April 8, 2006. (Posted 1:03 p.m.)

Jihadist coalition in Iraq says it executed 9 security officers, as threatened

BAGHDAD (CNN) -- An insurgent coalition that includes al Qaeda in Iraq issued a Web message Thursday saying it had executed nine Iraqi security officers. The message was included in a video released by the group.

The officers were said to have been taken by militants in Diyala province.

In a message was seen on the Web on Monday, Islamic State of Iraq, an umbrella insurgent group, promised to kill the people within 72 hours unless its demands were met.

The demands included calls for the release of Sunni women from Interior Ministry prisons, the surrendering of officers who committed a notorious rape, and the handover of officers who participated in displacing people and raping women in Tal Afar. (Posted 1:02 p.m.)

Drought conditions, Subtropical Storm Andrea fuel wildfires across Florida

(CNN) -- Extreme drought conditions and winds from Subtropical Storm Andrea fueled the 236 fires burning 87,162 acres across the state of Florida Thursday, the Florida Wildfire Information Center reported.

The largest of the blazes was the Bugaboo Fire, which actually began on Bugaboo Island in Georgia's Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge. Strong winds Tuesday pushed the flames into Florida, where it has scorched nearly 28,000 acres so far in Baker County, in the Osceola National Forest and the John Bethea State Forest.

Residents in Taylor, Fla., about 25 miles west of Jacksonville, were evacuated Tuesday and have not yet been able to return to their homes, according to a statement from the Florida Wildfire Information Center.

The Dairy Road Fire in Bradford County has burned more than 18,000 acres as of Thursday, the information center said, and the Balsa Fire in Collier County, about 12 miles east of Naples, has scorched nearly 16,000 acres.

Smaller fires in Flagler, Lake and Walton counties have burned nearly 11,000 acres in total. (Posted 1:01 p.m.)

Arab League representatives plan to visit Israel

JERUSALEM (CNN) -- In what would be a first, Arab League representatives plan to visit Israel within a few weeks, Israel's foreign minister's bureau said Thursday.

The announcement came after Israeli Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni met with Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak in Cairo.

Participating in the discussion was Egyptian Foreign Minister Ahmed Abdul Gheit, who announced afterward that the Arab League preparatory team -- which includes the foreign ministers of Egypt and Jordan -- plans to visit Israel within a few weeks as representatives of the Arab League, the minister's bureau said.

During the meeting, Livni raised the question of security in Gaza. She also detailed Israeli concerns over Hamas' increasing military capabilities and the routine firing of Qassam rockets into Israel, which she called unacceptable. (Posted 1 p.m.)

3 people arrested in Baghdad bridge bombing last month

BAGHDAD (CNN) -- Three people were arrested Wednesday in connection with the vehicle bomb attack last month on the Sarafiya Bridge in Baghdad, the U.S. military said.

Iraqi Special Operations forces made the arrests without incident, it said.

The bomb exploded April 12 on the bridge, a major span over the Tigris River in northern Baghdad. The structure collapsed into the river, killing at least 10 people and wounded 26. (Posted 12:59 p.m.)

Texas Republican wants Gonzales hearings to end

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- The ranking Republican on the House Judiciary Committee urged fellow lawmakers Thursday to stop questioning Attorney General Alberto Gonzales about the controversial firings of eight U.S. attorneys last year.

"We've investigated this situation for two months," Rep. Lamar Smith of Texas said as Gonzales sat before the committee. "We have nearly 10,000 pages of interview transcripts and documents. The public, the media and committee staff have all scoured them.

"We have held three hearings, featuring 18 witnesses. We have had four subpoena markups, and have subpoenaed 12 individuals and many associated documents. We have held 10 interviews, spanning more than 50 hours."

The attorney general's appearance before the House panel came nearly three weeks after his appearance before the Senate Judiciary Committee, whose chairman issued a subpoena to Gonzales May 2 in an effort to obtain e-mails written by President Bush's top political adviser in connection with the dismissals. (Posted 12:59 p.m.)

Parliament members want to weigh in on U.N. troop mandate

BAGHDAD (CNN) -- Members of anti-American faction in Iraq's parliament want to throw a wrench into the U.S.-led presence in Iraq, a deployment rubber-stamped by the United Nations and Iraq's executive branch.

Lawmakers from Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr's bloc are leading a movement to have the body vote on the presence of foreign troops in the war-wracked country.

Currently, any extension of the U.N. mandate for Multi-National Forces-Iraq goes directly to the Cabinet. The U.N. mandate comes up for review on June 15.

Al-Sadr -- with 30 members in the 275-seat parliament -- is virulently anti-American and wants U.S. troops to depart Iraq. However, other parliament members don't think this maneuver would succeed in ousting U.S. troops.

Non-Sadr members who signed the petition don't necessarily want to see foreign troops leave now. They simply want parliament to have a say in decisions regarding troop deployment. (Posted 12:58 p.m.)

2 juveniles arrested in connection with fires in two south Georgia counties

(CNN) -- As wildfires ate dry brush across four counties in southeastern Georgia, two boys were charged in connection with starting small fires in that region that were not connected with the larger blazes, authorities said Thursday.

A 12-year-old boy was charged with criminal damage to property and the unlawful starting of a land fire for a blaze he allegedly sparked in Ware County, and a 16-year-old was charged with the same counts for allegedly starting a small fire in Wayne County, according to Darryl Jones with the Georgia Forestry Commission's Arson Task Force.

The arrests came after a bloodhound followed a footprint from the starting point of one fire and found a spot where teenagers hang out, Jones said.

Each of those fires, which were started on Monday, were quickly put out by firefighters after burning less than an acre, Jones said. (Posted 12:56 p.m.)

Insurgent killed in Baghdad as Iraqi soldiers fend off apparent hospital attack

BAGHDAD (CNN) -- Iraqi soldiers Wednesday killed a militant during a fight with insurgents who apparently were planning to attack a hospital in Baghdad's Adhamiya district, the U.S. military said Thursday.

Soldiers were tipped off to an "impending attack" on the al Numan Hospital.

"Iraqi Army troops engaged insurgents at the back of the hospital. The IA soldiers killed one insurgent and wounded another trying to climb over a security wall carrying duffle bags of weapons and explosives.

"Three IA soldiers were wounded defending the hospital."

The Iraqi military found weaponry behind the hospital, and said the insurgents were trying to set up at least one improvised explosive device. (Posted 11:03 a.m.)

In Iraq, a stormy parliament session underscores sectarian tension

BAGHDAD (CNN) -- Iraq's parliament session Thursday ended abruptly amid quarreling in the chamber that reflects the tensions between Sunnis and Shiites and the dissatisfaction among politicians with the Nuri al-Maliki government.

Bickering and chaos erupted after a parliamentary delegation read a graphic report describing and cataloguing the tribulations of displaced Shiite families who fled their homes in Diyala province, north and east of Baghdad, for Karbala -- a city in the south considered holy by Shiites.

Parliament speaker Mahmoud al-Mashhadani -- a controversial Sunni who is not liked by all for his blunt and undiplomatic personality -- asked the delegation to present parliament with its recommendations on the problems the families are facing on Saturday. He said the recommendations would then be forwarded to the government.

But the delegation members interpreted al-Mashhadani's handling of their concerns and his grinning manner as dismissive and disrespectful, and they didn't like the way other lawmakers greeted the report.

Member of parliament Shatha al-Musawi -- an independent member of the United Iraqi Alliance, from Baghdad -- expressed outrage, saying al-Mashhadani "received this report as if it were a report on overflowing sewage or any other simple problem, not as a humanitarian disaster."--From CNN's Jomana Karadsheh (Posted 10:46 a.m.)

1 insurgent killed in Baghdad fighting Wednesday

BAGHDAD (CNN) -- Iraqi soldiers on Wednesday killed a militant during a fight with insurgents who apparently were planning to attack a hospital in Baghdad's Adhamiya district, the U.S. military said on Thursday.

Soldiers were tipped off to an "impending attack" on the al Numan Hospital.

"Iraqi Army troops engaged insurgents at the back of the hospital. The IA soldiers killed one insurgent and wounded another trying to climb over a security wall carrying duffle bags of weapons and explosives.

"Three IA soldiers were wounded defending the hospital."

The Iraqi military found weaponry behind the hospital, and said the insurgent were trying to set up at least one improvised explosive device in the hospital. (Posted 9:38 a.m.)

Cheney spends night in Iraq, then flies to UAE

BAGHDAD (CNN) -- Vice President Dick Cheney visited U.S. troops in the northern Iraqi city of Tikrit on Thursday after an overnight stay during his 29-hour trip to Iraq -- making him the highest-ranking U.S. official to have done so since the start of the war.

Reporters traveling with his delegation told CNN he slept in "distinguished visitors quarters" at Camp Speicher, a sprawling desert post seven miles from Tikrit -- Saddam Hussein's hometown and the site of the former Iraqi Air Force Academy, located in Salaheddin province.

Cheney ate scrambled eggs and exchanged chit-chat with soldiers over breakfast Thursday morning. Later in the day he attended a troop rally and delivered remarks, expressing his and the country's admiration and gratitude to the service members.

"Many of you have had your deployments extended, that puts a hardship on you and your families. I want you to know the extension is vital to the mission. The army and the country appreciate the extra burden you carry. (Posted 8:55 a.m.)

Andrea weakening off the northeastern Florida coast

MIAMI (CNN) -- Subtropical Storm Andrea was weakening off the northeastern Florida coast Thursday but still could produce some much-needed rain for coastal areas of Florida and Georgia, the National Hurricane Center said.

As of 8 a.m. ET, Andrea's center was located about 100 miles east of Jacksonville, Fla. and it had maximum sustained winds measured 40 mph with higher gusts, forecasters said.

Tropical storm force winds extended outward up to 105 miles, the statement said.

Andrea is expected to weaken as it drifts southward over the next 24 hours, forecasters said, but a tropical storm watch was still in effect for the southeastern coast from Altamaha Sound in Georgia to Flagler Beach in Florida. (Posted 8:39 a.m.)

Blair announces he will step down as British PM

(CNN) -- Saying "I did what I thought was right for the country," British Prime Minister Tony Blair defended his record as the country's leader for the past decade as he announced his intention to step down from power.

"I've come back here to Sedgefield, to my constituency where my political journey began and where it's fitting that it should end," Blair said.

"I've been prime minister of this country for just over 10 years. In this job in the world of today, I think that's long enough for me, but more especially for the country. And sometimes the only way you conquer the pull of power is to set it down."

He said he would tender his resignation to Queen Elizabeth on June 27.

Blair's announcement, which had been expected, will trigger a leadership election in the ruling Labour Party that will put a new chief in No. 10 Downing Street by the end of June. (Posted 8:15 a.m.)

U.S. military: Suspected terrorist killed in coalition raid in Iraq's Anbar province

BAGHDAD (CNN) -- An alleged terrorist was killed during a coalition raid in Iraq's Anbar province Thursday that targeted "a chemical bomb network," the U.S. military said.

The military believes the location, north of Karma, is "part of a vehicle-borne, improvised explosive device network that uses chlorine in its attacks." Such attacks have emerged this year in Anbar in western Iraq.

Troops shot and killed an armed person who they say fired at them from a building targeted in the raid. Troops later destroyed "bomb-making material" in the building. In another Anbar operation, two people with "suspected ties" to al Qaeda in Iraq smuggling activity were detained. (Posted 7:50 p.m.)

2 Afghans killed in suicide bomb attack

(CNN) -- A suicide car bomb attack in eastern Afghanistan on Wednesday killed two Afghan civilians and wounded five others at a bazaar, NATO's International Security Assistance Force said on Thursday.

The incident took place in Paktika province.

"In Islam, suicide is forbidden," said Akram Khapalwak, the Paktika provincial governor, who was quoted in the NATO news release.

"We condemn this action, even if it occurs elsewhere in the world. The enemy doesn't care about what they do because they continue to kill our religious leaders and others, which is a huge sin." (Posted 6:10 a.m.)

U.S. military: 3 insurgents killed in coalition raid, airstrike

BAGHDAD (CNN) -- U.S.-led coalition forces battled purported members of a terrorist cell in eastern Baghdad's sprawling Sadr City neighborhood early Thursday morning, killing three suspected terrorists and wounding three civilians, a military statement said. Four suspected terrorists were also detained.

Iraq's Interior Ministry offered a higher toll saying eight civilians were killed in the fighting and nine more were wounded.

During the pre-dawn raid in the densely populated Shiite neighborhood, coalition forces came under fire from two buildings and eventually called in close air support as the fighting intensified, the military said.

"The individuals targeted during the raid are suspected members of a secret cell terrorist network known for facilitating the transport of weapons and explosively formed penetrators, or EFPs, from Iran to Iraq, as well as bringing militants from Iraq to Iran for terrorist training," according to the military statement.

"Intelligence reports also indicate the secret cell has ties to a kidnapping network that conducts attacks within Iraq," the military said.(Posted 3:15 a.m.)



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