Hamas: Carter holds 2nd meeting with chief in Syria

DAMASCUS, Syria - Defying U.S. and Israeli warnings, former President Jimmy Carter met again on Saturday with the exiled leader of the militant Hamas group and his deputy.

The two Palestinians are considered terrorists by the U.S. government and Israel accuses them of masterminding attacks that have killed hundreds of civilians. Both governments have sharply criticized Carter's overtures to the militant group.

Carter met Mashaal and his deputy, Moussa Abu Marzouk, for about an hour Saturday morning, after more than four hours of talks the night before.

Anti-US cleric al-Sadr threatens new uprising in Iraq

BAGHDAD - Anti-American Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr gave a 'final warning' to the government Saturday to halt a U.S.-Iraqi crackdown against his followers or he would declare 'open war until liberation.'

A full-blown uprising by al-Sadr, who led two rebellions against U.S.-led forces in 2004, could lead to a dramatic increase in violence in Iraq at a time when the Sunni extremist group al-Qaida in Iraq appears poised for new attacks after suffering severe blows last year.

Al-Sadr's warning appeared on his Web site as Iraq's Shiite-dominated government claimed success in a new push against Shiite militants in the southern city of Basra. Fighting claimed 14 more lives in Sadr City, the Baghdad stronghold of al-Sadr's Mahdi Army.

Hamas suicide bombers attack Israel-Gaza crossing

JERUSALEM - Hamas bombers attacked an Israeli-Gaza border crossing under the cover of fog Saturday, detonating two jeeps made to look like Israeli military vehicles and packed with hundreds of pounds of explosives.

The twin blasts, just hours before the Jewish Passover holiday, wounded 13 Israeli soldiers in what Hamas said was an attempt to break the nearly yearlong blockade of the territory. Four Hamas assailants died, Israeli officials said.

An Israeli army commander said the Hamas operation was the most ambitious since Israel withdrew from Gaza in 2005, even though another planned attempt at the border was averted Saturday. The attack was the fifth on a crossing by Gaza militants since last week, and Hamas threatened to target the passages again.

Soyuz capsule lands off target

MOSCOW - A Russian space capsule carrying South Korea's first astronaut landed in northern Kazakhstan on Saturday, 260 miles off its mark, Russian space officials said.

It was the second time in a row, and the third since 2003, the Soyuz landing went awry.

Mission Control spokesman Valery Lyndin said the condition of the crew - South Korean bioengineer Yi So-yeon, American astronaut Peggy Whitson and Russian flight engineer Yuri Malenchenko - was satisfactory, though the three had been subjected to severe G-forces during the re-entry.

Missing ambassador to Afghanistan: 'I was kidnapped'

CAIRO, Egypt - An Arab satellite channel has aired video of Pakistan's ambassador to Afghanistan saying he was kidnapped by Taliban militants two months ago.

Ambassador Tariq Azizuddin and his driver and bodyguard are shown sitting on the ground in front of three masked men holding automatic weapons. The diplomat says he has been treated well by his captors.

Azizuddin disappeared Feb. 11 near Pakistan's border with Afghanistan. The video was broadcast Saturday on Al-Arabiya television.

Zimbabwean officials begin vote recount

HARARE, Zimbabwe - Zimbabwe's main opposition party said Saturday it feared its parliamentary election victory was being stolen, while former U.N. chief Kofi Annan urged African leaders to step in and resolve the country's election crisis.

Zimbabweans are still awaiting results of the presidential election held three weeks ago alongside parliamentary voting. Opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai claims he won outright and that the delay in reporting results is part of a fraud plot.

Now the opposition's landmark victory in the parliamentary vote is being called into question. Electoral officials on Saturday began recounting ballots for nearly two dozen legislative seats, which could overturn the Zimbabwean opposition's landmark majority win in the parliamentary poll.

Thai leg of Olympic torch relay festive, with small protests

BANGKOK, Thailand - Thousands of people followed the Olympic torch through the sweltering streets of Thailand's capital Saturday with little of the dissent that has accompanied some of the relay's earlier stops.

The nearly three-hour run, with no disruptions by demonstrators protesting China's recent crackdown in Tibet, contrasted with the chaos that accompanied the torch's visits to London, Paris and San Francisco.

Heavy but not heavy-handed security was deployed along the Bangkok route, with about 2,000 uniformed and plainclothes police on duty.