Major terror attack shakes Baghdad

BAGHDAD, Iraq - Three car bombs exploded Wednesday near a crowded bus station and a nearby hospital where survivors were being taken, killing 43 people in the deadliest suicide attack in Baghdad in weeks. Rescuers used bolt cutters to free some victims hurled into barbed wire fences by the blast.

The attacks may have been timed to coincide with talks on Iraq's constitution, which resumed Wednesday after leaders failed to meet a deadline two days ago. Iraq's main Sunni Arab party denounced the deliberations, raising doubts the document can win Sunni support and lure disaffected Sunni Arabs from the insurgency.

Dozens of small bombs rattle Bangladesh cities

DHAKA, Bangladesh - More than 100 homemade bombs planted by suspected Islamic militants exploded nearly simultaneously across Bangladesh on Wednesday, killing two people, including a young boy, and wounding at least 125.

About 50 people were arrested, a state-run news agency reported. There was no claim of responsibility, but leaflets from a banned group seeking the imposition of Islamic law were found at many scenes.

Violence worries Afghan candidates as elections near

KABUL, Afghanistan - Fear of attacks by Taliban-led rebels kept many candidates off the streets Wednesday as Afghanistan began its campaign period for landmark Sept. 18 legislative elections, the country's next step toward democracy.

In the capital Kabul, a handful of hopeful politicians stumped for votes, but in former Taliban strongholds in the country's south, candidates stayed home, fearful of rebels bent on sabotaging the polls.

Spanish helicopter crashes an accident, Afghan officials say

HERAT, Afghanistan - Two NATO peacekeeping helicopters that went down in Afghanistan, killing 17 Spanish troops, did not come under hostile fire, a top Afghan defense ministry official said Wednesday after visiting the crash site with Spain's defense minister.

''What is clear for us is that there was definitely no attack by militants,'' Maj. Gen. Shar Mohammed Karimi said. ''We suspect one of the helicopters may have accidentally hit the other while flying. The other possibility is that the choppers had technical problems.''

More than 325,000 join World Youth Day celebrations

COLOGNE, Germany - Hundreds of thousands of pilgrims streamed into the west German city of Cologne on Wednesday for the Roman Catholic Church's 20th World Youth Day, visiting the city's historic cathedral and awaiting a visit from the pope.

Visitors celebrating their faith packed the square in front of the cathedral and surrounding streets, waving their national flags and singing songs - in Spanish, French, German, English, Polish and Romanian. Some 325,000 people poured into the city.

Even more were expected during the week, eager to catch a glimpse of the German-born Pope Benedict XVI, who was to arrive today.

Israeli troops drag away settlers in Gaza withdrawal

NEVE DEKALIM, Gaza Strip - Jewish settlers sobbed and screamed, some of them ripping their shirts in mourning, as Israeli troops dragged them from homes and synagogues Wednesday - the beginning of the end of Israel's 38-year occupation of the Gaza Strip.

Despite the escalation of Israeli-Palestinian tensions, the eviction of die-hard settlers and their nationalist supporters who flooded into Gaza in recent weeks moved forward.

Italy to extradite London bombings suspect in 35 days

ROME - An Italian court on Wednesday approved the extradition to Britain of a London bombing suspect but said he must remain in Italy for another 35 days so Italian authorities can finish their investigations.

The three-judge panel granted a request by Italian prosecutors to delay the transfer of Hamdi Issac, who is suspected in the July 21 failed bombings on London's transit system.

Monk stabbed, dies at prayer service

PARIS - It was vespers in the Church of Reconciliation and a choir of monks was intoning the first notes of evensong.

In the peace and solemnity of prayer, few people in the Burgundy village paid heed to the woman who had slipped into the group of singing monks.

Suddenly, she lunged forward and sank a knife into the throat of the 90-year-old Brother Roger. He slumped forward and blood gushed from his wound.

Fifteen minutes later, the founder of the Taize Ecumenical Community who was celebrated worldwide for promoting Christian dialogue and for harboring Jews during World War II, was dead.

- From wire reports