Sunday, April 4, 2010

360 Sunday News Briefs

Baghdad Suicide Blasts Target Embassies; 32 Dead

Suicide attackers detonated car bombs near three embassies in Baghdad on Sunday, killing at least 32 people and wounding more than 100, authorities said.

The attacks outside the German, Egyptian and Iranian embassies deepened fears that insurgents will seize on the political turmoil after last month's parliamentary elections to sow further instability.

The blasts went off within minutes of each other, said Maj. Gen. Qassim al-Moussawi, a spokesman for the city's operations command center. It was not immediately clear whether anyone from the embassies was among the dead or wounded.

Multiple, coordinated bombings in the capital have become a hallmark of al-Qaida in Iraq.

Police officials said at least 18 people were killed outside the Iranian Embassy, where AP Television News footage showed civilians loading casualties into police vehicles and ambulances. Stunned victims, many in blood-spattered clothes, were fleeing the scene as smoke rose in the background. One man was cradling a small girl wearing a white dress in his arms.

The police officials said many of the victims were employees at a nearby state-run bank. They spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to release details to the media. At least 14 were killed in the other explosions, police officials said. At least 140 people were wounded in all three attacks. Other police officials put the total number of injuries at 185.

The explosion near the Iranian Embassy demolished cars and overturned a minibus outside the embassy wall. The force of the blasts shook buildings and rattled windows in the center of the capital.

Police arrested a man who was suspected of planning to detonate a car bomb near the former German Embassy, which is now a bank. The man was arrested inside a car loaded with explosives. Sunday's explosions came two days after an execution-style attack killed at least 24 Sunnis in a village south of Baghdad. The slayings reignited fears of the sectarian fighting in 2006 and 2007.

There have been increasing concerns that insurgents will take advantage of the post-election period to further destabilize the country. The March 7 parliamentary elections failed to give any candidate a decisive win.

Many fear a drawn-out political debate could spill over into violence and complicate American efforts to speed up troop withdrawals in the coming months.

Sunday's explosions, which occurred shortly before 11:30 a.m., came after a number of far smaller blasts overnight and early Sunday. One of those earlier blasts, believed to be caused by a bomb underneath a parked car killed one civilian and injured nine others, according to police.

Pope Hailed As 'Unfailing' Leader At Easter Mass

A senior cardinal defended Pope Benedict XVI from "petty gossip" on Sunday as the pontiff maintained his silence on mounting sex abuse cover-up accusations during his Easter message.

The ringing tribute by Cardinal Angelo Sodano, dean of the College of Cardinals, at the start of Mass attended by tens of thousands of faithful in St. Peter's Square, marked an unusual departure from the Vatican's Easter rituals.

Sodano's defense of the pope's "unfailing" leadership and courage, as well as of the work of priests worldwide with children entrusted to their care, built on a vigorous Vatican campaign to defend Benedict's moral authority.

Strong Earthquake Felt In California

This is a developing story....A large earthquake was felt in downtown Los Angeles on Sunday. Reports also said the quake was felt in San Diego. The USGS said that the 6.9 magnitude quake was centered in Baja California. It was followed by smaller aftershocks.

People on Twitter reported that the quake seemed to last quite a while. There were no immediate reports of damage, but Los Angeles television station KABC reported that some people were trapped in hotel elevators.

Officials Fear Ship Breaking Up On Barrier Reef

A coal-carrying ship that ran aground and was leaking oil on Australia's Great Barrier Reef was in danger of breaking apart, officials said Sunday.

The Chinese coal carrier Shen Neng 1 ran aground late Saturday on Douglas Shoals, a favorite pristine haunt for recreational fishing east of the Great Keppel Island tourist resort. The shoals are in a protected part of the reef where shipping is restricted by environmental law off the coast of Queensland state in the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park.

Authorities fear an oil spill will damage the world's largest coral reef off northeast Australia, listed as a World Heritage site for its environmental value.

The ship hit the reef at full speed, nine miles (15 kilometers) outside the shipping lane, State Premier Anna Bligh said.

A police boat was standing by to remove the 23 crew if the ship broke apart and an evacuation was necessary, she said.

Patches of oil were seen near the stricken ship early Sunday, but Maritime Safety Queensland reported no major loss from the 1,000 tons (950 metric tons) of oil on board.

Phoenix Girl Impaled By Rebar Fence

A 12-year-old Phoenix girl was recovering Sunday after her leg was impaled by a rebar fence, Phoenix TV station KPHO reported. Firefighters said the girl stood up on the 3-foot-tall fence while trying to reach a ball that got stuck in a tree.

They said she slipped and her right thigh was impaled by the decorative rebar on top. Rescue crews said they had to use the Jaws of Life to chop off the entire section, sedate the girl and put her in the ambulance with the piece of metal still in her leg.

"It's just one of those freak accidents," Phoenix Fire Capt. Alex Rangel said. "She just happened to be at the right place at the wrong time and looking at that decorative metal it has the nice smooth ball at the top."

"You wouldn't think that would have been able to penetrate that far but sure enough it did," Rangel said. "Probably her weight of the impact, just all of her weight on that one point."

Surgeons were able to remove the entire piece without hitting any major arteries. The girl is expected to be OK.

Cops: Drunk Steals Ambulance, Leads Slow Chase

San Diego police said a man just out of the hospital for intoxication stole an ambulance and fled from police before they stopped him with spike strips.

Police said 52-year-old Paul John Sos was arrested Saturday on suspicion of auto theft, failure to yield to police and felony drunken driving. Police Sgt. Ray Battrick said Sos had been found drunk and taken to Sharp Hospital in a private ambulance. Battrick said Sos checked himself out Saturday morning then found an unattended fire department ambulance with keys in the ignition.

The ambulance had GPS installed and police quickly found it, but Sos refused to stop, leading a slow pursuit through residential streets before he was stopped with spike strips and arrested.

Dog Bumps Car Into Neutral, Causes Accident

Wisconsin police said a dog caused a fender-bender in a parking lot when it knocked a parked car's gear shift into neutral. Middleton police said the car's owner had stopped for lunch Thursday and left his dog in the car.

Officer Jeff Winer said the dog somehow bumped the car into neutral. He said the car rolled out of its parking spot and into a pickup truck across the lot. Police said the damage to each vehicle could run in the thousands of dollars.

Winer said it's the first time in his 27-year career he's seen a dog at fault in a collision. He told WISC-TV when he first heard what happened he thought it was an April Fools' joke.

AssociatedPress; Writers Saad Abdul-Kadir, Hamid Ahmed, Sinan Salaheddin and Elizabeth A. Kennedy contributed to this report in Baghdad; Reuters; KABC, Los Angeles; KPHO, Phoenix; WISC-TV, San Diego.

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