Bomb blast kills Shiite pilgrims in Iraq
BAGHDAD, Jan. 3 (UPI) -- A suicide bomber killed at least 27 Shiite pilgrims Thursday at a bus station in Iraq.
The blast targeted pilgrims returning from Karbala, CNN reported. The bomb exploded in Musayyib, a city south of Baghdad.
The Financial Times put the death toll at 27. The newspaper said the bombing followed days of increased tensions between Sunni and Shiite Muslims, including large demonstrations by Sunnis against the Shiite-dominated government.
A few hours before the bomb went off, officials announced they would meet one demand by freeing 11 women from prison and transferring others to facilities in their home provinces. But the government of Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki has also threatened to use force against protesters.
Gabrielle Giffords to visit Newtown, Conn.
NEWTOWN, Conn., Jan. 3 (UPI) -- Ex-Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, a shooting spree victim herself, plans to meet with families of victims of the Connecticut school shootings, an official says.
Steve Jensen of Connecticut Lt. Gov. Nancy Wyman's office told CNN Giffords, who left Congress after being wounded in the head in the Tucson mass shooting two years go, has a "planned visit" to Newtown scheduled for Friday.
Jensen said if the visit takes place it will be off-limits to the media.
ABC News said Giffords would be accompanied by her husband, retired astronaut Mark Kelly. The couple met Wednesday with New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who has been pushing for stronger gun control laws.
Giffords and Mark Kelly have also campaigned for gun control, including calling for an assault weapons ban.
A young gunman killed his mother at their home, then 26 people, including 20 children, at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown last month.
Giffords, who represented an Arizona congressional district, was one of 13 people wounded in the January 2011 shooting outside a Tucson supermarket that claimed six lives.
Terror suspect extradited from Britain
NEW YORK, Jan. 3 (UPI) -- Britain Thursday extradited to the United States a Pakistani man accused of plotting terror attacks in England and the United States, U.S. prosecutors said.
Abid Naseer, 26, is expected to appear Monday in U.S. District Court in Brooklyn, N.Y., before Judge Raymond J. Dearie, The New York Times said. Naseer had fought extradition.
Naseer was indicted in November 2010 in Brooklyn on a charge of providing material support for al-Qaida. The indictment was part of a larger case involving three men who were convicted of plotting to blow up New York subways during rush hour.
The Times said Naseer was among a group of men arrested by British authorities in April 2009. The group was accused of being part of an al-Qaida cell inside England.
Court papers said the plot cases were linked by an al-Qaida "facilitator" in Peshawar, Pakistan, who used the same email account to send coded messages to one of the subway plotters in the United States and to Naseer in Britain.
Obama bowls with daughters
KAILUA, Hawaii, Jan. 3 (UPI) -- President Obama went bowling with his daughters on a rainy Thursday in Hawaii and afterward they enjoyed some flavored shaved ice, a family vacation tradition.
No details of the first family's success or failure on the Marine Corps base bowling lanes were provided to pool reporters, who were kept out of sight.
Afterward, though, Obama and his daughters Sasha and Malia were seen coming out of Island Snow, located in a small shopping center, accompanied by several family friends. The president, clad in an untucked navy polo shirt and jeans, came out with a green-and-red shaved ice in hand.
Obama greeted the small crowd outside with a "How are you doing?" and shook hands with several people before departing in his sport utility vehicle.
The White House said the president's group ordered "an assortment of flavors" at Island Snow.