Karzai warns that drugs are fueling insurgency

KABUL, Afghanistan - Fighting erupted across Afghanistan ahead of a visit Wednesday by Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, with 10 suspected rebels, six police and five medical workers killed and rockets slamming into the capital.

President Hamid Karzai warned the militants were receiving support from drug traffickers and that his nation could fall back into the hands of terrorists if its booming heroin trade, which supplies nearly 90 percent of the world's supply, isn't stamped out.

It was the first time Karzai has directly linked the drug trade with the Taliban insurgency in Afghanistan. Washington earlier this year criticized Karzai for not being tough enough on narcotics and U.S. officials have said they suspect the insurgency is being partially funded by drug money.

Cardinal warns against dropping celibacy rule

VATICAN CITY - A senior cardinal warned Wednesday that relaxing the Roman Catholic Church's rule on celibacy for priests would be a ''serious error,'' countering calls by reformers that allowing them to marry would help resolve a shortage of clergymen.

Cardinal George Pell, archbishop of Sydney, Australia, delivered the strongest defense of celibacy yet to the Synod of Bishops, a meeting that gives Pope Benedict XVI recommendations on running the church.

Pell praised what he called the ''ancient tradition and life-giving discipline of mandatory celibacy.''

China lets public watch its latest space launch

BEIJING - At the bustling Beijing railway station, a hush fell over the crowd Wednesday as hundreds of people watched a giant video screen showing the countdown for China's second manned space launch.

A cheer went up as the rocket carrying two Chinese astronauts blasted off from its desert launch pad. Then another as the first stage separated from the rocket. And still more cheers when the Shenzhou 6 capsule with astronauts Fei Junlong and Nie Haishen reached orbit.

Two years ago, officials in charge of China's history-making first manned spaceflight were too worried about accidents to allow a live broadcast. But on Wednesday, a more confident government eased its secrecy and let millions of Chinese share in its triumph.

U.S. links North Korea to ring of counterfeiters

WASHINGTON - A leader of the Official Irish Republican Army has been indicted in the United States on charges he conspired with North Korea to circulate millions of dollars in phony U.S. currency, prosecutors said.

The indictment of Sean Garland, 71, and six other men by a federal grand jury in Washington marks the first time in a 16-year investigation that the government has alleged in court documents that North Korea plays a major role in counterfeiting $100 bills, known as Supernotes.

Garland was arrested Friday in Belfast, Northern Ireland, where he was attending a conference of the Irish Workers' Party. Garland is the party's president. The party is the political wing of the Official Irish Republican Army, which took its name after a split with the Provisional IRA, which had grown into the dominant anti-British paramilitary force.

Morocco wants more European cooperation

RABAT, Morocco - Morocco started deporting hundreds of Malians on Wednesday, and senior Moroccan officials accused European nations and neighboring Algeria of not doing enough to help stem the flow of illegal African immigrants seeking to reach Europe.

''They demand too much of Morocco, use every argument to attack it,'' said Tayeb Fassi Fihri, Morocco's secretary for foreign affairs and cooperation.

Both he and Interior Minister Mustafa el Sahel called for a regional conference on the illegal immigration crisis that has gathered pace in recent weeks.

Rice promises U.S. support for Pakistan

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan - The devastation of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita fresh in mind, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice promised Wednesday that the United States would provide help over the long haul for Pakistan's recovery from a killer earthquake.

Rice detoured from a trip to Afghanistan and Central Asian nations to briefly visit Pakistani leaders and American troops ferrying supplies in and wounded out of the rugged earthquake zone.

''The United States has, as other parts of the world have, been through natural disasters,'' Rice said following a meeting with Pakistan's foreign minister. ''This one is of epic proportions, and I want the people of Pakistan to know that we will be with you.''

- From wire reports