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Bombings kill 7 in southern Afghanistan

By TIMES WIRES
Published May 18, 2007


KANDAHAR, AFGHANISTAN - Two coordinated bomb blasts killed seven people in southern Afghanistan on Thursday, including three police responding to the first explosion - an Iraq-style attack rarely seen here.

Hours later, a suicide car bomber rammed into a convoy that usually carries Kandahar Gov. Asadullah Khalid. The governor was not in the convoy, but the apparent assassination attempt killed three civilians on the street and wounded four government employees, including the information and culture minister and one of Khalid's bodyguards.

The blasts in Kandahar came less than a week after Taliban field commander Mullah Dadullah was killed during a U.S.-led operation in neighboring Helmand province.

The Taliban claimed responsibility for the first two attacks in their former stronghold. The Taliban have warned of "bad consequences" if the government didn't hand over Dadullah's body to his relatives.

 

Sarkozy names aide as French premier

PARIS - President Nicolas Sarkozy of France on Thursday named Francois Fillon to be his prime minister in a move intended to smooth the enactment of an ambitious reform program.

Fillon, 53, a four-time Cabinet minister who helped mastermind Sarkozy's campaign, is a confidant of the president and has a strong record of promoting economic change and successful negotiations with unions. He pledged Thursday to carry out Sarkozy's election promises and signaled that he would consult with workers and employers.

Fillon's streamlined Cabinet of 15 ministers, to be announced today, is expected to include seven women, at least one centrist politician and Bernard Kouchner, a Socialist, as foreign minister. Fillon said he would govern "in a spirit of outreach."

 

Labor Party's Brown to succeed Blair

LONDON - Opening a new era in British politics, the governing Labor Party confirmed on Thursday that Gordon Brown, the chancellor of the Exchequer, had emerged as the sole candidate to assume the party leadership and thus succeed Prime Minister Tony Blair when he steps down in June.

The development means that Brown will be installed as prime minister next month without either a formal contest in the Labor Party or a national vote.

"I will lead a new government with new priorities, " Brown declared, promising to retain Britain's strong bond with the United States and to seek to restore Britons' trust in their leaders.

The Labor Party's nomination of Brown without a formal competition, however, annoyed some opposition leaders who were seeking an immediate general election. In a first-round selection process Thursday, Brown won the endorsement of 313 of Labor's 353 legislators, which made it mathematically impossible to mount a challenge.

Elsewhere

UNITED NATIONS: Belarus was defeated for a seat on the U.N. Human Rights Council on Thursday after a campaign by the United States, key European countries and human rights groups against the former Soviet republic's rights record. Fourteen other counties got three-year terms.

HAVANA: Cuba says it will spend about $185-million to upgrade more than 200 resorts, golf courses, marinas and other facilities in a bid to reverse a dip in tourism.

PERTH, AUSTRALIA: A shark bit a woman as she waded in knee-deep water while carrying her baby in Western Australia state, an emergency official said Thursday. The 39-year-old woman was bitten on the calf at Warra Beach, 620 miles north of Perth on Wednesday. The baby was unharmed.