50 killed at home of former Pakistani official

SHERPAO, Pakistan - Pakistani police raided an Islamic school and arrested seven students Friday, hours after a suicide bomber killed at least 50 people inside a mosque packed with holiday worshippers at the home of the former interior minister.

Suspicion for the blast, which left bloody clothing, shoes and pieces of flesh scattered across the house of worship, focused on the pro-Taliban or al-Qaida militants active near the Afghan border, where the attack occurred.

It was the second suicide attack in eight months apparently targeting Aftab Khan Sherpao, who as interior minister was deeply involved in Pakistan's efforts to combat the Taliban and drive out al-Qaida.

Japan halts plan to kill humpback whales

TOKYO - Giving in to U.S. pressure and worldwide criticism, Japan's government on Friday announced a whaling fleet now in the Southern Ocean for its annual hunt will not kill the threatened species as originally planned. The fleet will, however, kill some 935 minke whales, a smaller, more plentiful species, and 50 fin whales.

Japan dispatched its whaling fleet last month to the southern Pacific off Antarctica in the first major hunt of humpback whales since the 1960s.

Authorities in Saudi Arabia foil

holy site plot

Riyadh, SAUDI ARABIA - Police arrested a group of men planning to attack holy sites around Mecca during the just-completed annual Muslim pilgrimage, the Saudi Interior Ministry said Friday.

'Security forces have foiled a plot to carry out a terror attack on holy sites outside Mecca with the aim of confounding security forces,' Interior Ministry spokesman Mansour al-Turki told The Associated Press.

Iraqi leader warns of 'awakening' groups' presence

BAGHDAD - The leader of the largest Shiite political party in Iraq told about 5,000 faithful who gathered Friday for Eid al-Adha prayers that U.S.-backed anti-al-Qaida armed groups - mostly comprised of Sunnis - should be on the side of government forces and not try to replace them.

Abdul-Aziz al-Hakim, head of the Supreme Islamic Iraqi Council, told worshippers gathered near his office in southwest Baghdad that the so-called 'awakening' groups, many of whom once fought against U.S. forces but have since turned their guns on extremists, that the fighters must side with the government.