Clashes with rebels kill 13 in Kashmir

SRINAGAR, India - A series of rebel bomb attacks and gunfights with security forces in the Indian portion of Kashmir on Wednesday left at least 13 people dead and dozens injured, officials said.

In the largest attack, suspected insurgents triggered a small explosion that detonated a larger bomb in an abandoned car on a busy street in Srinagar, the summer capital of India's Jammu-Kashmir state, said Hari Lal, an officer of the Central Reserve Police Force.

The blasts left three soldiers and three civilians dead and wounded 40 others, Lal said. The explosions shattered windows at dozens of nearby buildings.

Authorities said that nearly 160 rebels, including 38 commanders, have been killed in the Indian portion of Kashmir since January.

Police find charred remains after hunt for missing kids

MOSCOW - Police believe the charred remains of several children found in a Siberian city may be the bodies of five boys who went missing in April, sparking a massive three-week search, a regional prosecutor said Wednesday.

The bodies were found about a mile from the boys' homes on the outskirts of Krasnoyarsk, about 2,100 miles east of Moscow, police said.

Investigators did not detect any signs of violent death and said the children may have died from an accidental fire, the Internet news Web site Gazeta.ru reported.

Blair urges Labour unity after elections

LONDON - Tony Blair urged his Labour Party to unite Wednesday, reassuring lawmakers he would resign before the next election and confronting critics who blame him for a disappointingly slim margin of victory.

The closed-door meeting was Blair's first battle with party rebels since last Thursday's election, when an apparent voter backlash over the Iraq war reduced Labour's majority in the 646-seat House of Commons from 161 to 67.

In a political culture where the gentlemanly exit is not inconceivable, many are now asking not whether Blair will hand over the reins to his powerful and popular Finance Minister Gordon Brown, but when.

''He has to give us a timetable,'' said Labour rebel Glenda Jackson.

Pope warming up to his role with public

VATICAN CITY - Pope Benedict XVI signed autographs, kissed children and shook the hands of hundreds of pilgrims Wednesday as his latest weekly audience found him warming up to his new role as pastor of the world's Roman Catholics.

Thousands turned out in St. Peter's Square on a warm, sunny day for the third general audience of his papacy following his election April 19.

The pope also blessed the sick, then waved to the crowd as he took a spin through the square in an opened-topped vehicle after delivering a homily that offered ''fear of God'' as an antidote to the world's ills.

Iraqi insurgents unleash deadly bombings, attacks

BAGHDAD, Iraq - Suicide bombs ripped through a crowded market and a line of security force recruits Wednesday as a wave of explosions and gunfire across Iraq killed at least 69 people - pushing the death toll from insurgent violence to more than 400 in less than two weeks.

The bloody attacks, which also wounded 160 people, came despite a major U.S. offensive targeting followers of Iraq's most-wanted terrorist near the Syrian border, a remote desert region believed to be a staging ground for some of the insurgents' deadliest assaults.

The day's events underscored how intense the fight for Iraq's future has become in the scant three months since Iraqis voted in the country's first democratic elections and more than two years since the United States declared the end of major combat.

Insurgents averaged about 70 attacks a day at the start of May, up from 30 to 40 in February and March, said Lt. Col. Steven Boylan, a spokesman for U.S. forces in Iraq.

Grenade discovery during Bush visit sets off speculation

TBILISI, Georgia - Was it a bid to undermine a visit by President Bush - or evidence of a real assassination plot?

A grenade found near a stage where Bush addressed crowds of Georgians on Tuesday has set off a flurry of speculation. The array of potential culprits - from disgruntled Georgians to local minorities and even Russian saboteurs - reflects the instability of a volatile country struggling through transition.

The address to tens of thousands of people in Tbilisi's Freedom Square was the centerpiece of a Bush visit choreographed to cement relations between the United States and the ex-Soviet republic's new pro-Western leadership.

National Security Council chief Gela Bezhuashvili said Wednesday he suspected the grenade, which he described as inactive, was planted in a deliberate bid to undermine the rosy scenario.

- From wire reports