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News update

Saturday, May 19

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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.

Suicide bomb kills 6 in southern Afghanistan

From Journalist Tom Coghlan in Kabul

(CNN) -- At least 40 civilian casualties resulted from a suicide bomb blast at a crowded market in the southern Afghan province of Paktika Sunday morning, Afghanistan Interior Ministry spokesman Zmarai Bashiri told CNN.

At least six people have been confirmed dead.

The blast occurred in Gardez, the province's central city, "and unfortunately as a result a big number of civilian casualties (occurred)," Bashiri said.

No one claimed responsibility for the attack, but Bashiri said authorities believe the attackers were either Chechnyan or Pakistani. He did not specify why.

The target of the attack was not immediately clear he said, and there were no U.S. - led coalition forces in the area.

Gardez is about 100 km (60 miles) south of the Afghan capital Kabul.

The attack comes a day after a suicide bomber launched an attack in the northern Afghan city of Kunduz, killing eight people -- including three NATO soldiers of German nationality. (Posted 2:59 a.m.)

NATO precision airstrike killed Taliban extremists in southern Afghanistan

(CNN) -- A NATO -led precision airstrike targeting "a gathering of enemy leaders" killed a "significant number of Taliban extremist leaders" overnight in southern Afghanistan, a statement from NATO's International Security Assistance Forces said Sunday.

The statement was vague about the exact location of the airstrike, saying only that it occurred "in a remote area, far from any population center."

Initial assessments, the statement said, indicated only enemy insurgents were killed.

According to ISAF spokesman Maj. John Thomas, the overnight operation, in combination with the killing last week of a top Taliban leader, will "push the enemy into confusion and disarray."

NATO said the extremist leaders "are being denied the ability to operate and plan." (Posted 2:29 a.m.)

At least 1 Lebanese soldier dead in army, militant clashes

(CNN) -- At least one Lebanese soldier was killed in ongoing clashes between Islamic militants linked to al Qaeda and Lebanese Army forces near a Palestinian refugee camp north of Tripoli Sunday, Youth and Sports Minister Ahmed Fatfat said.

Speaking on Arabic language network Al-Jazeera, Fatfat, who is from northern Lebanon, said the Lebanese Army has suffered "a large number of killed and injured," but would only confirm one death, owing to the fact the clashes were ongoing and more developments were expected.

Army sources told CNN earlier the ongoing fighting was sparked when Lebanese internal security forces were conducting early-morning raids in a neighborhood in the Lebanese port city of Tripoli.

Army sources said militants from Fatah al-Islam opened fire on the forces, who then returned fire, triggering clashes in the vicinity of the Nahr al-Bared Palestinian refugee camp.

-- CNN's Nada Husseini and Saad Abedine contributed to this report (Posted 2:10 a.m.)

Fifth Palestinian cease-fire brokered; Israeli rockets, airstrikes continue

GAZA CITY (CNN) -- An internal Palestinian cease-fire was brokered Saturday between the rival Hamas and Fatah parties -- the fifth such attempt at peace this week -- as Qassam rockets were fired into Israel and retaliatory airstrikes occurred.

The cease-fire took effect at 3 p.m. (8 a.m. ET), Palestinian security sources told CNN.

Israel Defense Forces said it monitored a Qassam rocket attack Saturday night that appeared to come from the vicinity of the Jabiliya refugee camp. A retaliatory airstrike was launched, and the target -- three men believed to be a militant group cell -- was believed destroyed, the IDF said.

There was no immediate word from the Palestinians on casualties.

Earlier Saturday, three Qassam rockets were fired into Israel, one of which damaged a building in a town south of Sderot. On Friday, officials said, 17 rockets were fired into Israel from Gaza. (Posted 5:15 p.m.)

Search for missing soldiers ongoing; at least two believed alive

(CNN) -- Military commanders are operating under the assumption that at least two -- and possibly all three -- U.S. soldiers missing in Iraq are still alive, military officials told CNN.

Officials have been talking to informants and detainees who have not told them the soldiers are dead, Lt. Col. Michael Infanti, commander of the 4th Battalion, 31st Infantry Regiment in Iraq, told CNN's Arwa Damon. The soldiers are members of the regiment's 10th Mountain Division's Second Brigade Combat Team. If the soldiers had been killed, Infanti said, those individuals likely would have heard about it. He also noted news of the soldiers' killings had not been posted on the Internet, as is the custom with Islamic groups.

Meanwhile, another senior official said that at least two of the suspects detained over the last week are believed to be directly responsible for the attack May 12 in which four soldiers and an Iraqi interpreter were killed. The three soldiers have been missing since that attack outside Mahmoudiya, in an area known as the Triangle of Death. Searches have been conducted around the clock since the soldiers' apparent abductions since the attack, which ambushed a team of eight service members including the interpreter. (Posted 12:53 p.m.)

Official: At least two missing U.S. soldiers believed to still be alive

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- Military commanders are operating under the assumption that at least two -- and possibly all three -- U.S. soldiers missing in Iraq are still alive, military officials told CNN.

Meanwhile, another senior official said that at least two of the suspects detained over the last week are believed to be directly responsible for the attack May 12 in which four soldiers and an Iraqi interpreter were killed. The three soldiers have been missing since that attack outside Mahmoudiya, in an area known as the Triangle of Death.

A second official, who spoke to CNN on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the intelligence, said U.S. military commanders are operating under the assumption at least two soldiers are still alive and being held by an al Qaeda-affiliated group in Iraq.

The missing soldiers have been identified as Spc. Alex R. Jimenez (prono: HE men ez), 25, of Lawrence, Mass.; Pfc. Joseph J. Anzack Jr., 20, of Torrance, Calif.; and Pvt. Byron W. Fouty, 19, of Waterford, Mich.

The U.S. military confirmed Friday that various military items had been recovered that could provide clues as to what happened to the soldiers, including one official said were parts of a U.S. military uniform. -- From CNN Senior Pentagon Correspondent Jamie McIntyre and CNN Pentagon Correspondent Barbara Starr (Posted 12:08 p.m.)

Fifth Palestinian cease-fire brokered; Israeli rockets, airstrikes continue

GAZA CITY (CNN) -- An internal Palestinian cease-fire was brokered Saturday between the rival Hamas and Fatah parties -- the fifth such attempt at peace this week -- as Qassam rockets were fired into Israel following Israeli airstrikes overnight.

Three Qassam rockets were fired into Israel, one of which damaged a building in a town south of Sderot. On Friday, officials said, 17 rockets were fired into Israel from Gaza.

Israel Defense Forces carried out two airstrikes overnight. One airstrike targeted two sites used to manufacture weaponry; the other, south of Beit Hanoun, targeted a group of militants believed to have launched a Qassam rocket on Sderot, an IDF spokesman said. Palestinian medical sources said two Palestinian civilians were killed and four injured in the second airstrike. (Posted 10:44 a.m.)

Gunmen dressed as soldiers kill 15 in Kurdish Shiite town

BAGHDAD (CNN) -- Gunmen dressed in Iraqi military uniforms raided Qara Lus, a town near the Iranian border Saturday morning, killing 15 men and wounding a woman, according to a Baquba police official.

The raid was in the Hamid al-Shafi district of Qara Lus, 60 miles east of Baghdad in the Diyala province, which is populated by Kurdish Shiites.

The gunmen, who claimed they were on an official military mission, ordered residents to leave their homes and then separated the men from the women and children, the official said. They then shot the men, he said.

Iraqi officials at the Diyala Joint Coordination Center said that all Iraqi Army units near the town were contacted and they said they had no military operations there.

--CNN's Jomana Karadsheh and Mohammed Tawfeeq in Baghdad contributed to this report. (Posted 9:51 a.m.)

Eight U.S. soldiers killed since Friday, including 1 searching for missing 3

BAGHDAD (CNN) -- The U.S. military announced the deaths of five more U.S. soldiers killed in Iraq, bringing to eight the number of U.S. troops killed since Friday.

The latest death came Saturday when a roadside bomb exploded near a patrol south of Baghdad, killing one U.S. soldier and wounded three others along with two Iraqi soldiers, the military said. The soldiers were involved in the massive search for three U.S. soldiers missing since an ambush south of Baghdad a week ago, the military said.

An American patrol was attacked with a roadside bomb and small arms fire in northwest Baghdad Friday, killing two U.S. soldiers and wounding two others, the military said.

One U.S. soldier was killed "by small arms fire while dismounted in an overwatch position during combat operations" south of Baghdad Friday, the military said.

The military also said a U.S. soldier assigned was killed while conducting combat operations in the Anbar province Friday.

Earlier Friday, three U.S. soldiers were killed in an explosion near their vehicle in the restive northern Iraqi province of Diyala, the U.S. military said.

With the deaths, 63 U.S. military service members have been killed this month and 3,414 have been killed since the start of the war. (Posted 9 a.m.)

Suicide bomb attack kills 3 German soldiers, wounds 2

(CNN) -- A suicide bomb attack killed three German soldiers and killed five Afghan civilians Saturday in the northern Afghan city of Kunduz, NATO's International Security Assistance Force and the German military said.

In addition, two German soldiers and eight civilians suffered injuries from the blast, which ISAF spokeswoman Lt. Col. Angela Billings characterized as a "senseless act of violence" that "shows the barbarity of extremists and criminals."

"This attack shows once again that there are no really safe areas in Afghanistan," said German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier. "The work, which the German army is doing in Northern Afghanistan is vital to the stablilization of that country." (Posted 7:50 a.m.)

Hamas and Fatah reach another cease-fire

(CNN) -- Hamas and Fatah leaders in Gaza agreed to a cease-fire Saturday, making it the fifth attempt at peace between the rival factions in the past week.

Palestinian security sources said the Egyptian-brokered cease-fire will take effect at 3 p.m. local time (8 a.m. ET.) (Posted 7:35 a.m.)

Coalition forces nab 9 individuals with possible ties to missing soldiers

BAGHDAD (CNN) -- U.S. - led coalition forces raided a building west of the capital near Fallujah Saturday and detained nine people suspected of involvement in the kidnapping of three U.S. soldiers last week, a U.S. military statement said.

The coalition raid in Amiriya, which is 12 miles south of Fallujah, was conducted after following tips and information leads, the statement said.

According to a U.S. military spokesman in Baghdad, "all available assets" are being used to find abducted soldiers Spc. Alex R. Jimenez (prono: HE men ez), 25, of Lawrence, Mass.; Pfc. Joseph J. Anzack Jr., 20, of Torrance, Calif.; and Pvt. Byron W. Fouty, 19, of Waterford, Mich.

Earlier in the week a senior Pentagon official told CNN that 11 individuals have been placed in U.S. custody.

According to a U.S. commander in Iraq, two of those placed in the military's custody told interrogators they were paid by a middle man to take part in the attack. (Posted 6:52 a.m.)

Over 24-hours bomb attacks kill 2, wound 8 in Baghdad

BAGHDAD (CNN) -- During a 24-hour period bomb attacks in Baghdad left two dead and eight wounded, officials said.

A parked car bomb explosion killed two people and wounded seven others Friday evening when it exploded near a police station in northwestern Baghdad's Salam neighborhood, a Baghdad police official said.

On Saturday, three explosions rocked Baghdad's heavily fortified Green Zone, wounding one person, a U.S. Embassy spokesman told CNN.

Separately, Iraqi police found 21 bullet-riddled bodies north of Baquba in Kahlis town on Friday, a Baquba police official said.

Iraqi journalist Mohammed al-Azzawi was among the bodies police found. He had a gunshot wound to his head, the official said.

Al-Azzawi worked for Sunni-dominated Iraqi Islamic Party's Baghdad TV and was kidnaped last month by gunmen in Baquba, which is about 35 miles north of the capital.

-- CNN's Mohammed Tawfeeq and Jomana Karadsheh contributed to this report (Posted 6:18 a.m.)

U.S. Embassy: Explosions hit inside Iraq's Green Zone

BAGHDAD (CNN) -- Three explosions rocked Baghdad's heavily fortified Green Zone Saturday, wounding one person, a U.S. Embassy spokesman told CNN.

According to preliminary reports, no deaths occurred.

It is the third day this week that an attack on the Green Zone has resulted in casualties.

Embassy spokesman Lou Fintor said, "at approximately 11:30 a.m. (3:30 a.m. ET) there were four explosions," three of them that hit inside the International Zone.

"We are investigating the nature of these explosions," Fintor said, adding that he could not immediately confirm the nationality of the wounded individual but he was looking into it.

The apparent attack came hours after British Prime Minister Tony Blair arrived in Baghdad for talks with Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki and other Iraqi officials. (Posted 4:35 a.m.)

Britain's PM in Baghdad for talks

BAGHDAD (CNN) -- British Prime Minister Tony Blair arrived in Baghdad Saturday for meetings with Iraqi government officials, including Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki and President Jalal Talabani, an official in the prime minister's office told CNN and No. 10 Downing Street confirmed.

Shortly after his arrival the a U.S. Embassy spokesman announced four explosions occurred in Baghdad -- three in the heavily fortified Green Zone.

According to preliminary reports no deaths occurred but one person was injured.

Blair's visit to Baghdad comes after his announcement last week that he would step down as Labour Party leader after a new leader is confirmed by a party conference, which is expected around the end of June.

He has served as Britain's prime minister since 1997. (Posted 3:02 a.m.)


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