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31 killed as bicycle bombs target worshipers in India

Published September 9, 2006

MALEGAON, India - Two bombs rigged to bicycles exploded among crowds of Muslims as they left Friday prayers at a mosque in a western Indian textile city, killing 31 people and wounding 100.

Fearing revenge attacks across the country's fragile religious divides, authorities clamped a curfew on Malegaon, which has a history of Hindu-Muslim violence, and put security forces on alert.

The first bomb went off in a graveyard, and the second in a crowded street a short distance away, officials said. Thousands of people were out on the streets to mark Shab-e-Barat, also called the night of atonement or forgiveness, a Muslim religious event during which people go to graveyards to offer prayers for the souls of the dead. Late Friday, the city's streets were empty, with thousands of police on patrol and checkpoints set up.

Sudan says it will release American journalist

KHARTOUM, Sudan - Sudan's president agreed Friday to release American journalist Paul Salopek after meeting with New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson.

Richardson said he will pick up the Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter for the Chicago Tribune, his Chadian driver and his interpreter in the war-torn Darfur region today. The three were arrested there on charges of espionage.

Salopek, who has a home in New Mexico, was on assignment for National Geographic magazine when he was arrested last month and accused of passing information illegally, writing "false news" and entering the African country without a visa..

Saudi religious police go after domestic pets

JIDDAH, Saudi Arabia - Saudi Arabia's religious police, normally tasked with chiding women to cover themselves and ensuring that men attend prayers, have turned to a new target: cats and dogs. The police have issued a decree banning the sale of the pets, seen as a sign of Western influence.

The prohibition on dogs may be less of a surprise, since conservative Muslims view dogs as unclean. But the cat ban befuddled many, since Islamic tradition holds that the Prophet Muhammad loved cats. The decree applies to the Red Sea port city of Jiddah and the holy city of Mecca.

[Last modified September 9, 2006, 01:37:42]

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