9 US soldiers killed in fight with al-Qaida

BAGHDAD - Nine American soldiers were killed in the first two days of a new offensive to root out al-Qaida in Iraq fighters holed up in districts north of the capital, the U.S. military reported Wednesday.

The losses came as many militants fled U.S. and Iraqi forces massing in Diyala, a province of palm and citrus groves that has defied the trend toward lower violence. The campaign's scope is nationwide but is mainly focused on gaining control of Diyala and its most important city, Baqouba, which al-Qaida has declared the capital of its self-styled Islamic caliphate.

Six soldiers were killed and four were wounded Wednesday in a booby-trapped house in Diyala, the U.S. command said. It also announced that three U.S. soldiers were killed and two wounded in an attack Tuesday.

Maldives cheer Scout who foiled assassination

COLOMBO, Sri Lanka - Residents of the Maldives showered praise Wednesday on a 15-year-old Boy Scout who foiled an attempt to assassinate the president of this island nation by grabbing the attacker's knife.

Mohammed Jaisham Ibrahim, wearing his blue Maldives scout uniform with a blue kerchief, was among those waiting to greet the leader Tuesday when the attacker lunged out from the crowd.

'Jaisham our national hero saves the president,' the Midhu Daily newspaper cheered in a headline.

Chinese pig passes on genes that cause glow

BEIJING - A cloned pig whose genes were altered to make it glow fluorescent green has passed on the trait to its young, a development that could lead to the future breeding of pigs for human transplant organs, a Chinese university reported.

The glowing piglets' birth proves transgenic pigs are fertile and able to pass on their engineered traits to their offspring, according to Liu Zhonghua, a professor overseeing the breeding program at Northeast Agricultural University.

Kenyan leader says he won't allow recount

KISUMU, Kenya - President Mwai Kibaki, addressing countrymen who had to flee blazing homes and rampaging mobs armed with machetes and arrows in Kenya's seething political turmoil, defiantly rejected demands Wednesday for a new election or vote recount.

Violence set off by opposition claims that Kibaki stole the Dec. 27 presidential election raged on, causing a new exodus of refugees.