U.S. commander: Sunnis who fight must be legitimized

YOUSSIFIYAH, Iraq - A top U.S. commander warned Tuesday that Sunnis who fight al-Qaida in Iraq must be rewarded and recognized as legitimate members of Iraqi society - or else the hard-fought security gains of the past six months could be lost.

But the Shiite-dominated government is deeply concerned about the Sunni tribal groups, made up of men who in the past also fought against them - not just the Americans.

The warning from Maj. Gen. Rick Lynch, the commander of U.S. forces south of Baghdad, came as two separate suicide attacks killed at least 35 people around Iraq and injured scores of others. One of the bombings targeted a funeral procession for two members of a Sunni tribal group who local police said were accidentally killed by U.S. forces in a dawn raid.

Turkey claims over 200 Kurdish rebel targets hit in Iraq

ISTANBUL, Turkey - Two Turkish airstrikes this month destroyed more than 200 Kurdish rebel targets in the mountains of northern Iraq, killing hundreds of insurgents, the military said Tuesday.

Up to 175 rebels were killed on Dec. 16 alone, the military said in a statement posted on its Web site. The military said other hideouts were hit in a cross-border airstrike on Saturday, followed by artillery fire.

Russian military successfully fires ballistic missile

MOSCOW - Russia's military on Tuesday successfully test-fired a new intercontinental ballistic missile capable of carrying multiple nuclear warheads - a weapon intended to replace aging Soviet-era missiles.

The RS-24 missile was launched from the Plesetsk launch facility in northern Russia and its test warheads successfully hit designated targets on the Kura testing range on the Kamchatka Peninsula some 4,340 miles east, Strategic Missile Forces spokesman Alexander Vovk told The Associated Press.

At least 15 killed, more missing after bridge collapse

KATMANDU, Nepal - A steel footbridge collapsed Tuesday in western Nepal under the weight of hundreds of people on their way to a fair, plunging scores about 100 feet into icy Himalayan waters. At least 15 were killed and more than 100 were missing and feared dead, officials said.

Troops were being rushed to the area to assist with search-and-rescue operations. But with efforts halted by nightfall, hopes were slim of

finding more survivors in the fast-flowing mountain river, said Anil Pandey, the top government official in the area.

Authorities believe some 500 people traveling to a village fair were crossing the Bheri River on the bridge when its support cables snapped under the weight, Pandey said.

Raul Castro says brother Fidel should be in parliament

HAVANA- Fidel Castro remains on the mend, gaining weight, exercising twice a day and continuing to help make the Cuban government's top decisions, his brother Raul Castro says.

The island's acting president gave the first clues about his brother's health in weeks, saying during a Monday speech that he has a 'healthier mentality, full use of his mental faculties with some small physical limitations.'

At 76, Raul is five years younger than his ailing brother, who has not been seen in public since announcing he had undergone emergency intestinal surgery and was stepping down in favor of a provisional government in July 2006.

14 sailors missing in S. Korean waters from chemical ship

SEOUL, South Korea - Rescuers in ships and helicopters launched an intensive search Tuesday for 14 sailors feared drowned after their ship disappeared in freezing waters off South Korea.

The South Korean ship was carrying 2,000 tons of nitric acid, but it is unlikely to pose a threat to the ocean or marine life since the chemical dilutes easily, said Choi Eun-ju, a regional Coast Guard officer.

South Korea's Coast Guard and navy started searching for the ship shortly after it sent out a distress signal off Yeosu, about 280 miles south of Seoul, early Tuesday, coast guard spokesman Kang Byung-mun said.

Only one sailor - identified as a 28-year-old Burmese - has so far been rescued, while the remaining 14 crew members may have drowned, Kang said.

European diplomats told to leave after trip to Helmand

KABUL, Afghanistan - Two European diplomats who went to one of Afghanistan's most volatile regions have been asked to leave Afghanistan, officials said Tuesday.

Aleem Siddique, a spokesman for the United Nations mission, said a U.N. employee traveled to the volatile southern province of Helmand on Monday along with a member of the European Union. Siddique said the Afghan government asked the U.N. employee to leave, claiming he was 'detrimental' to national security.

Other officials told The Associated Press the Afghan government has asked a U.N. employee and a European Union employee to leave Afghanistan.