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Blast kills six near security area

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan, Oct. 23 (UPI) -- A suicide bomber, in the latest attack on Pakistani security forces, struck near an air force facility Friday, killing at least six people, authorities said.

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The attack occurred at a security forces check post near the Kamra Aeronautical Complex in Attock district in the Punjab province, northwest of Islamabad, Geo TV reported.

At least eight more were injured in the latest in a series of deadly terror strikes by militants, apparently in retaliation for the military's current air and ground offensive against the Taliban, al-Qaida and other terror groups in South Waziristan.

Attock police official Fakhar Sultan told Geo TV a suicide bomber blew himself up when stopped by security personnel near the aeronautical facility and those killed included two security personnel and four civilians. The injured were taken to the Attock hospital.

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The state-run Associated Press of Pakistan also put the death toll at six but said at least a dozen people were injured.

The blast site was a joint check post of police and the Pakistani air force, the report said.

The militants have been largely targeting security installations or police posts in their recent attacks which have killed more than 180 people so far in October.

The Pakistani capital is one of the major cities to be hit in the recent violence.

On Thursday two men on a motorcycle shot and killed an army brigadier and a soldier in a residential area of Islamabad. On Tuesday, two near simultaneous suicide blasts killed at least six people, three of them women, at Islamabad's International Islamic University and injured several more.


Afghan runoff supplies being distributed

KABUL, Afghanistan, Oct. 23 (UPI) -- Election officials began distributing millions of ballots, tamper-proof ink and equipment across Afghanistan for the Nov. 7 presidential runoff election.

Afghanistan's Independent Election Commission said it decided to reduce the number of polling stations used during the runoff, The Wall Street Journal reported Friday. Officials said the closings would be in areas the government doesn't control and the security threat is high, and where observers said corrupt poll supervisors stuffed ballot boxes in the Aug. 20 voting.

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The IEC, appointed by President Hamid Karzai, hasn't said how many polling places would be closed, the Journal reported. One official said about 2,000 of 25,000 stations won't open, most of them in restive eastern and southern Afghanistan, Karzai's primary support base.

Karzai will face Abdullah Abdullah, a former Afghan foreign minister, in the second round.

United Nations representatives have been pushing for more stations to remain closed, saying they feared a repeat of the rampant fraud in the first round that led a U.N.-supported electoral watchdog to order a reversal of the IEC's initial decision to award Karzai a victory.

"The IEC will have to get a balance between making sure that people who want to cast their vote can do it, and the issues relating to fraud," U.N. spokesman Dan McNorton said in Kabul.


Iranian lawmaker cool to uranium deal

TEHRAN, Oct. 23 (UPI) -- The deputy speaker of Iran's Parliament seems to have dismissed a draft plan to have Iran ship its uranium abroad for processing, broadcast comments indicate.

Deputy Speaker Mohammad Reza Bahonar made his comments broadcast by IRNA, the Iran's official news agency, after negotiators in Vienna struck the tentative deal, The New York Times reported Thursday.

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Bahonar said the terms of the deal, under which Iran would ship its uranium to a third-party country and receive processed nuclear fuel in return, were "not acceptable," IRNA reported. He added, "(We) have announced that this draft plan has to be reviewed, and for the time being we are not saying whether we accept or reject it."

Bahonar's comments were not an official reaction to the deal, awaiting approval by Iranian and U.S. officials by Friday. The Iranian Parliament won't be voting on it.

Neither Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad nor the country's supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, who has final authority over affairs of state, have commented on the tentative proposal.

U.S. officials have voiced cautious optimism that the deal could lead to a more permanent solution to reining in Iran's nuclear aspirations, which Tehran maintains are peaceful.


London may put armed officers on streets

LONDON, Oct. 23 (UPI) -- London's famed Metropolitan Police plan to put armed officers on routine street patrol for the first time, officials said Thursday.

The proposal is a response to a rise in gang violence and shootings in some neighborhoods, The Independent reported. Officials say the number of gun crimes rose 17 percent in the past six months.

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Under the plan, officers from the specialist firearms unit, which has the code name CO19, would go on patrol with unarmed neighborhood officers in areas, including housing projects, where gun violence is most prevalent.

Since the first police forces were created in Britain in the 19th century, patrol officers have never routinely carried firearms. In London, armed officers have been deployed on the street only when protecting officials or in response to reports of an armed suspect, although officers carry firearms at Heathrow International Airport.

Some members of the Metropolitan Police Authority, which supervises the police, openly opposed the plan. They said they had not been consulted.

"We want fewer guns on the streets not more, and people to feel safe in their community -- not scared of those who are supposed to protect them," Joanne McCartney, a member of the MPA, said.


Obama to discuss energy, raise funds

CAMBRIDGE, Mass., Oct. 23 (UPI) -- It's off to New England for President Obama to discuss cutting-edge energy technology at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, the White House said.

Obama was to challenge Americans to take the lead globally in clean energy and highlight investments that are creating jobs and making advancements in wind energy, the White House said.

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Obama was to deliver his remarks after touring a research lab at MIT in Cambridge, Mass.

Several fundraising events also were on Obama's itinerary. He was scheduled to deliver remarks at a reception and a fundraising event for Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick in Boston.

Obama and Sen. Chris Dodd, D-Conn., were to tour a small business in Stamford, Conn. The president also will speak at a fundraising dinner for Dodd.

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