Suicide bomber kills 16 people in northwestern Iraq

BAGHDAD - A suicide bomber detonated explosives among a group of men seeking police jobs Thursday, killing 16 people crowded around a recruiting station in northwestern Iraq despite warnings of an attack.

The blast in the town of Sinjar, about 240 miles northwest of Baghdad, occurred about three weeks after U.S. and Iraqi forces launched an offensive to drive al-Qaida in Iraq out of Mosul, the largest city in northern Iraq and the terror movement's last major urban stronghold.

No group claimed responsibility for the blast, but suicide operations are the signature attack of al-Qaida. The blast could have been aimed at relieving pressure on al-Qaida fighters in Mosul, 75 miles to the east.

Iceland shaken by magnitude 6.1 earthquake

REYKJAVIK, Iceland - A strong earthquake shook southern Iceland on Thursday, causing more than a dozen injuries as it rocked buildings in the capital, touched off landslides and forced evacuations in outlying towns, officials and local media said.

Government officials reported that 15 to 20 people from Selfoss, 30 miles southeast of the capital of Reykjavik, were injured in the quake, none of them seriously. They were taken to a local health center for treatment.

The U.S. Geological Survey said Selfoss was near the epicenter of the magnitude 6.1 quake, which hit at 3:46 p.m.

First tropical storm of Pacific season hits Central America

MANAGUA, Nicaragua - Tropical Storm Alma slammed into Nicaragua's northwest corner Thursday, near the city of Leon, becoming the first such storm of the eastern Pacific season.

Heavy wind and rains knocked out power, forced evacuations, and flooded

low-lying areas all along Central America's Pacific coastline.

Alma's maximum sustained winds were near 65 mph but the storm was expected to weaken as it heads inland over Honduras. Thursday afternoon, it was moving at 9 mph.

World Bank helps in food crisis

WASHINGTON - The World Bank is stepping up efforts to help overcome the global food crisis by providing an extra $1.2 billion in grants and loans.

To deal with immediate and long-term food problems, the bank said Thursday that it will increase its overall support for agriculture and food aid to $6 billion next year, up from $4 billion in 2008.

Myanmar blasts aid donors for not giving more

n YANGON, Myanmar - Myanmar's ruling junta lashed out Thursday at aid donors who promised millions of dollars for cyclone relief, saying survivors didn't need 'bars of chocolate.'

State-run media criticized donors for only pledging up to $150 million - a far cry from the $11 billion the junta said it needed to rebuild.

The Myanma Ahlin newspaper, a government mouthpiece, said cyclone victims from the hardest-hit areas could get by without foreign handouts.

Chemical fire, rain hamper China quake recovery

CHENGDU, China - A stockpile of chemicals being used to disinfect an earthquake-shattered Chinese town ignited Thursday and injured scores of soldiers doing relief work, adding to a day of problems for urgent recovery efforts.

Heavy rain also added to the misery of crowds of homeless survivors living in tents or lean-tos, and hampered troops rushing to drain a quake-spawned lake before it floods a valley filled with villages.

The chemical fire took place in the town of Leigu, in devastated Beichuan county. The official Xinhua News Agency reported that more than 800 people were evacuated to avoid a cloud of dense chlorine gas caused by the blaze.

Official: Somali pirates hijack 2 more boats

MOGADISHU, Somalia - A Kenyan maritime official said Somali pirates have hijacked two more boats in the Gulf of Aden.

Andrew Mwangura of the East Africa Seafarers Assistance Program said the two ships were taken Wednesday, near where a Dutch ship was seized Monday. He said he had no information about the owners or the nationalities of the crew onboard the MV Lehmann Timber or the MV Arena, or any information on the pirates' demands.

The attacks bring the total number of ships hijacked in the area this year to 26.