Process to beatify John Paul II opens

ROME - The Roman Catholic Church placed Pope John Paul II on the path to sainthood Tuesday during a joyous ceremony at a Roman basilica - the fastest start to a beatification process in memory for a man many considered a saint long before he died.

The faithful remained silent during the ceremony, but once the cause was declared officially open, applause rang out.

U.S. military helicopter crashes in Afghanistan

KABUL, Afghanistan - A U.S. CH-47 Chinook transport helicopter, which a military official said may have been carrying 15 to 20 people, crashed Tuesday while ferrying reinforcements for counterterrorism operations in eastern Afghanistan. The Taliban claimed responsibility.

The fate of those on board the helicopter was not immediately known, the U.S. military said. A statement said the cause of the crash was unclear.

Afghan elections to go ahead despite violence

KABUL, Afghanistan - Landmark legislative elections in Afghanistan will be held as planned in September despite an upsurge in rebel violence that has raised fears the polls could be threatened, the president's spokesman said Tuesday.

His comments come after three months of fighting that has killed a reported 465 suspected insurgents, 29 U.S. troops, 43 Afghan police and soldiers and 125 civilians.

Italy preparing to seek extradition of CIA agents

ROME - Italy is preparing to request the extradition of 13 purported CIA officers accused of kidnapping a terrorism suspect and secretly transporting him to Egypt, a court official said Tuesday.

Prosecutors have asked the help of Interpol in tracking down the suspects.

The 13 were accused of seizing Osama Moustafa Hassan Nasr, known as Abu Omar, on a Milan street on Feb. 17, 2003, and sending him to Egypt, where he reportedly was tortured, said prosecutor Manlio Claudio Minale.

Violence, deaths mark first year of Iraq's sovereignty

BAGHDAD, Iraq - Bombs killed the country's oldest legislator and two American soldiers Tuesday on the first anniversary of Iraq's sovereignty - a day the president described as ''blessed'' despite the persistent violence.

More than a dozen Iraqis also were killed, and U.S. and Iraqi troops launched Operation Sword aimed at communities along the Euphrates River, their third major anti-insurgency campaign in Anbar province.

- From wire reports