Families of infected Libyan HIV children outraged by pardon

TRIPOLI, Libya - The families of the children infected with the AIDS virus in a Libyan hospital voiced outrage Wednesday at the pardon and release of six medics who returned to Bulgaria a day earlier.

'We deeply condemn and are deeply disappointed at the absurdity and disrespect shown by the Bulgarian presidential pardon,' the Libyan Association for the Families of HIV-Infected Children said in a statement faxed to The Associated Press.

The five nurses and one doctor were flown to Bulgaria on Tuesday and immediately pardoned by Bulgarian President Georgi Parvanov.

French President Nicolas Sarkozy visited Libya on Wednesday and met with Moammar Gadhafi, the leader of the long-isolated country. Sarkozy promised to boost relations with Libya as a reward for the detainees' release.

Suicide bombers attack Baghdad's soccer celebrations

BAGHDAD - The dream run of Iraq's national soccer team captivated an otherwise despairing nation. But even in its moment of joy - the Iraqis are in the Asian Cup finals for the first time ever - violence struck Wednesday.

Two suicide bombings killed at least 50 cheering, dancing, flag-waving Iraqis celebrating their national triumph. More than 130 other revelers were wounded.

The attacks bore the hallmarks of Sunni militants who have fueled the violence tearing at the fragile fabric of Iraq for nearly four years. But these bombings, in parked cars less than an hour apart in separate corners of Baghdad, appeared designed to gain attention rather than target a particular sect.

An ice cream parlor was the backdrop for the first attack, at about 6:30 p.m. A suicide attacker exploded his car in a crowd of people cheering near the al-Riwad shop in the predominantly Sunni Mansour neighborhood in west Baghdad, according to the Interior Ministry. At least 30 people were killed and 75 wounded, the ministry said.

The second suicide car bombing took place in the midst of dozens of vehicles filled with revelers near an Iraqi army checkpoint in the eastern district of Ghadeer, where an uneasy mix of Sunnis, Shiites and Christians live. At least 20 people died and nearly 60 were wounded, the ministry said.

Iraq's largest Sunni bloc suspends

Cabinet membership

BAGHDAD - Iraq's largest bloc of Sunni politicians suspended membership in the government Wednesday, a bid that appeared timed to deepen disenchantment in Washington with the Shiite prime minister's faltering leadership.

The Iraqi Accordance Front, which has six Cabinet seats and 44 of 275 in parliament, gave Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki a week to meet its demands or see ministers quit the 14-month-old government.

Brazil aviation chief fired after deadly crash

SAO PAULO, Brazil - Brazil's president fired his defense minister Wednesday in response to a fatal jetliner crash that turned months of anger over breakdowns in the military-run national air system into a full-blown political crisis.

Defense Minister Waldir Pires was under withering criticism for not fixing the system even before the TAM Linhas Aereas SA jet crashed last week at Sao Paulo's main Congonhas airport, killing 199 people.

His replacement, former Supreme Court President Nelson Jobim, now must make good on President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva's promise of a thorough investigation, new safety measures and a third airport to serve Sao Paulo, a booming city of 18 million people.

S. Korean hostage found shot dead

in Afghanistan

KABUL, Afghanistan - Afghan police discovered the bullet-riddled body of a male hostage on Wednesday, one of 23 South Koreans kidnapped by the Taliban last week.

Because of a recent spike in kidnappings - including an attempt against a Danish citizen Wednesday - police announced foreigners were no longer allowed to leave the Afghan capital without their permission.

The South Korean victim was found with 10 bullet holes in his head, chest and stomach in the Mushaki area of Qarabagh district in Ghazni province, the region where the group was seized July 19 while riding a bus, said Abdul Rahman, a police officer.

Arab League visits Jerusalem

JERUSALEM - In a historic first, an Arab League delegation came to Jerusalem on Wednesday to promote a plan for peace with Israel, saying it offers the country 'security, recognition and acceptance' by its Middle East neighbors.

Such a visit - and offer - once would have been unimaginable, but was greeted now with little public fanfare, pushed well down on the evening TV news by a public sector strike and a row involving Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert.

The delegates saw the prime minister and the president and visited parliament, bringing a proposal for full recognition of Israel by the Arab and Islamic world in return for Israel's withdrawal from all lands captured in the 1967 Middle East war.

- From wire reports