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UPI NewsTrack TopNews

Feb. 3, 2013 at 8:27 AM   |   Comments

Iraq car bomb attack kills at least 35

KIRKUK, Iraq, Feb. 3 (UPI) -- At least 35 people were killed Sunday when two bombs exploded outside a police station in Kirkuk, Iraq, which was then stormed by gunmen, an official said.

Brig. Gen. Natah Mohammed Sabr, head of the city's emergency department, said the militants attempts to take control of the compound housing police headquarters failed, al-Arabiya reported. He said at least 70 people were injured in the attack.

Officials said the number of casualties was expected to rise.

Iraqi security forces killed two suicide bombers attempting to enter the Kirkuk Police Command center before they detonated their bomb belts, IraqiNews.com said.

"The police forces shot the two suicide bombers dead after breaking into the building before they managed to detonate their explosive belts," a security source told the Iraqi website.

Sabr said the attack occurred during rush hour in the city center and the militants were armed with guns, grenades and suicide vests when they attempted to force their way into the building. A nearby building was severely damaged, he added.

No one claimed responsibility for the attack, however, al-Arabiya noted the city is located in a disputed area claimed by both the central government and Iraq's autonomous Kurdish region.With its massive oil reserves, Kirkuk is the most bitterly contested of Iraq's disputed territories, the BBC said.


Eight dead in Pakistan building collapse

LAHORE, Pakistan, Feb. 3 (UPI) -- At least two workers died and another 20 were trapped Sunday when the roof of a warehouse collapsed in Lahore, Pakistan, Geo News reported.

Rescue workers have removed eight people from the rubble of the building, located in the Nishtar Colony area of the city.

Rescuers were still searching through the rubble for the remaining 20 victims, Geo News reported.

The cause of the collapse was not reported.


TV crew hostages released in Philippines

SULU, Philippines, Feb. 3 (UPI) -- Two Filipino television crew members who were who were kidnapped eight months ago by the Islamic guerrilla group Abu Sayyaf have been released, officials said.

Ramil Vela and Buboy Letriro were captured by the group on June 12 along with Jordanian journalist Baker Atyani, who was not released with Vela and Letriro Saturday night, GMA News Online reported.

Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao Police Chief Noel Delos Reyes said: "Last night they were recovered from a hotel they were staying," adding, "I think they will be flown back to Manila."

"The two are now under protective custody of the Sulu provincial police office," Delos Reyes said.

Police and military officials did not comment on Atyani or his fate, China's Xinhua news agency reported.

Philippine Army Spokesman Randolf Cabangbang said Vela and Letriro told police they had not seen Atyani since a week after they were kidnapped.

Abu Sayyaf, founded in the 1990s, is a Muslim terrorist group that often engages in kidnappings for ransom, as well as bombings, beheadings, assassinations, and extortion.

Its stated goal is to create an independent Islamic state in western Mindanao and the Sulu Archipelago areas in the southern Philippines.


Israel considers buffer zone inside Syria

JERUSALEM, Feb. 3 (UPI) -- Israel may build a buffer zone inside Syria to protect it from rebels, Britain's The Sunday Times reported.

The newspaper quoted unnamed sources as saying the buffer zone could reach up to 10 miles inside Syria, and would be modeled on the Lebanese security zone, which is jointly policed by the South Lebanese and Israeli armies.

The proposal, which is in the hands of Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, is aimed at securing the 47-mile border against the growing threat from inside Syria, the newspaper reported.

"We've presented the prime minister with a comprehensive plan to defend Israel's border after, or perhaps before, the fall of Assad's regime," a source told the newspaper. "A buffer zone set up with the cooperation of local villagers lies at the heart of the plan. If the country remains unstable we might have to stay there for years."

Construction of a 20-foot steel wall to replace an old fence along Israel's border with Syria is already under way, the paper noted. The move reflects the changes in the Syrian regime, the source said.

"The old fence was fine for more than 40 years. We knew then that there was a strongman in Damascus. But not anymore. The new wall will be good when it's ready but without the buffer zone mortar and rocket attacks on Israel would be a daily event," the source said.

Israeli air strikes Wednesday allegedly destroyed a weapons convoy heading for Hezbollah in Lebanon and a military research facility that foreign reports said manufactured chemical weapons and missiles.

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