Iraq's Shiite clerics divided on militia crackdown

BAGHDAD - Shiite clerics offered sharply different visions Friday in the showdown between government forces and Shiite militias - one predicting that armed groups will be crushed in Baghdad and another calling for the prime minister to be prosecuted for crimes against his people.

The contrasting views - given during weekly sermons - showed the complexities and risks in the five-week-old crackdown on Shiite militia factions. The clashes have brought deep rifts among Iraq's Shiite majority and have pulled U.S. troops into difficult urban combat in the main militia stronghold in Baghdad.

But Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, a Shiite, shows no indication of easing the pressure on groups including the powerful Mahdi Army led by anti-American cleric Muqtada al-Sadr.

Bomb explosion outside Yemen mosque kills 18

SAN'A, Yemen - A bomb rigged to a motorcycle blew up amid a crowd of worshippers leaving Friday prayers at a mosque in a rebel stronghold of northern Yemen, killing at least 18 people and wounding about four dozen, officials said.

The attack occurred in Saada, a city in a mountainous Shiite Muslim area on the border with Saudi Arabia where a rebellion by members of the al-Zaydi sect erupted in 2004. Thousands have died in violence between the rebels and the government of this predominantly Sunni country.

Insurgents in Somalia threaten revenge on US

MOGADISHU, Somalia - A U.S. airstrike that killed the suspected al-Qaida leader in Somalia brought warnings of vengeance from Islamic insurgents Friday and the threat of a boycott that could jeopardize peace talks with the U.N.-supported government.

The biggest alliance supporting Somalia's Islamic insurgency said it might pull out of planned May 10 talks on escalating fighting and a humanitarian crisis that has caused thousands of civilian deaths and displaced hundreds of thousands over the past year.

Dalai Lama envoys head to China

DHARMSALA, India - The Dalai Lama's envoys headed for China on Friday to hold the first talks with Chinese officials since violent protests erupted in Tibet.

China has faced mounting calls to negotiate with Tibet's exiled spiritual leader, and many believe it agreed to the talks in a bid to ease the pressure ahead of the Beijing Olympics.

The two envoys were going to China for 'informal talks with representatives of the Chinese leadership,' the Dalai Lama's office said in a statement.