United Arab Emirates
Pakistanis ransomed from Somali pirates
DUBAI - A negotiator said seven crew members of a Malaysian-owned ship held by Somali pirates since late 2010 were heading home to Pakistan under a partial ransom deal that still leaves 15 merchant seamen held.
Negotiator Ahem Chinky said Pakistani families and groups raised $1.1 million for the release of the crew members from the MV Albino. But that fell short of the $2.85 million sought by the pirates under a deal reached earlier this year by Dubai-based intermediaries.
The freed crew passed through Dubai en route to Pakistan on Thursday.
The remaining crew still held by pirates include seven Sri Lankans, six Bangladeshis, one Iranian and one Indian.
The Kenya-bound ship was hijacked in November 2010 in the Gulf of Aden.
12 killed in bombings, drive-by shootings
BAGHDAD - Bombings and drive-by shootings killed 12 people across Iraq on Thursday, officials said, in the latest series of small but recurrent strikes by militants bent on bringing the country back to the brink of civil war.
Authorities said five security forces were among the dead.
In Baghdad's northeastern and mostly Shiite neighborhood of Husseiniyah, two roadside bombs exploded simultaneously at an open-air market just minutes before shoppers broke the daylong fast they observe during the ongoing Muslim holy month of Ramadan.
Seven people were killed in the blasts, including two women, and another 24 were wounded. Hospital officials confirmed the casualties.
Top editor charged in phone hacking case
LONDON - Former Rupert Murdoch protege Rebekah Brooks has been charged with conspiring to hack into the phones of hundreds of well-known people and their associates.
The development had been expected since July 24, when prosecutors named Brooks as one of eight people accused of participating in a campaign that targeted more than 600 celebrities, sports stars, politicians and crime victims. Brooks was formally charged late Thursday at a London police station.
Brooks resigned as chief executive of Murdoch's News International when the phone hacking scandal exploded last year.
Police reportedly fire tear gas at protesters
MANAMA - Witnesses say riot police in Bahrain have fired tear gas and stun grenades at hundreds of anti-government protesters.
Recent arrest sweeps by Bahraini officials have appeared to weaken the uprising launched nearly 18 months ago by the nation's Shiite majority, who claim they face systematic discrimination by the Sunni monarchy.
Witnesses say some arrests were made in Thursday's clashes.
Mayor will camp out to show capital is safe
SAN JUAN - The mayor says he will sleep aboard a bus on the streets of San Juan to prove they are safe.
Jorge Santini said Thursday that he and his family will spend several nights on a bus parked in different neighborhoods. He also plans to cook a typical rice-and-beans dish for residents of those communities as part of his re-election campaign.
Santini said he wants to prove that crime has not taken over San Juan, though many of the island's 1,117 homicides last year occurred in the metropolitan area.
Santini said his wife and three children also will take part in the sleepover.
Santini has been mayor since January 2001 and faces a challenge from local Rep. Carmen Yulin Cruz in the November elections.
UN says floods raise urgent need for food
North Korea needs immediate food assistance after heavy rains killed scores of people and submerged vast swaths of farmland, a U.N. office said Thursday.
That assessment was released by the U.N. resident coordinator's office in Pyongyang following visits to flood-stricken areas in North Korea earlier this week. Floods caused by two storm systems last month killed at least 119 people and left tens of thousands homeless, state media said.
The United States said it would consider a request for assistance but has not received one, and it was not aware of Pyongyang making requests to other states.
"If requested, it would be something that that we would carefully evaluate, but we are not at that point," State Department spokesman Patrick Ventrell said Thursday.
The flooding, which occurred on the heels of a severe drought, renewed concerns about North Korea's ability to feed its people. In June, the U.N. said two-thirds of the country's 24 million people are coping with chronic food shortages.
Thursday's U.N. report said torrential rains caused severe damage to homes, public buildings, infrastructure and farms, affecting maize, soybean and rice fields.
The worst-hit areas are Anju city and Songchon County in South Phyongan Province, as well as Chonnae County in Kangwon Province, where residents are in dire need of emergency food aid, it said.
The U.S. government gave $900,000 in relief supplies for North Korea after deadly floods last year.
A subsequent plan this year to send 240,000 tons in food aid in return for nuclear concessions was scrapped when North Korea tested a long-range rocket in April.
The Associated Press