Gunmen besiege hotels, kill 119

MUMBAI, India - Indian commandoes fought early Friday to wrest control of two luxury hotels and a Jewish center from suspected Muslim militants, more than a day after a chain of attacks across Mumbai left at least 119 people dead and the city shellshocked.

Gunfire and explosions were heard throughout the day Thursday and into the night then the early morning hours from the besieged headquarters of the ultra-orthodox Jewish outreach group Chabad Lubavitch and the Taj Mahal and Oberoi hotels, two of the top gathering spots for the Mumbai elite. Throughout the day, commandoes brought hostages, trapped guests and corpses out of the hotels in small groups while fires erupted periodically and firefighters battled the flames.

State officials said 119 people had died and 288 were injured.

The well-planned attacks began Wednesday night and officials said the gunmen were prepared, even carrying large bags of almonds to keep up their energy during the fight. Their main targets appeared to be Americans, Britons and Jews, though most of the dead seemed to be Indians and foreign tourists caught in the random gunfire.

Iraqi lawmakers approve US withdrawl plan

BAGHDAD - The long, costly story of American military involvement in Iraq moved closer to an end Thursday when Iraq's parliament approved a pact that requires all troops to be out in three years, marking the first clear timetable for a U.S. exit since the 2003 invasion that ousted Saddam Hussein.

The vote for the security deal followed months of tough talks between U.S. and Iraqi negotiators that at times seemed on the point of collapse, and then days of hardscrabble dealmaking between ethnic and sectarian groups whose centuries-old rifts had hardened during the first four years of the war.

Thai PM orders protestors ousted from airports

BANGKOK, Thailand - Protesters occupying Bangkok's two airports braced for a raid Thursday night after Prime Minister Somchai Wongsawat declared a limited state of emergency authorizing police to take back the terminals.

Meanwhile, rumors swept the city that the military would instead stage a coup to end the monthslong standoff between the People's Alliance for Democracy and the elected government, which the alliance has vowed to topple.

Afghan police: 4 dead in blast

KABUL, Afghanistan - A suicide car bomber targeting a convoy of foreign troops exploded about 200 yards (meters) outside the U.S. Embassy in Kabul on Thursday, killing at least four Afghan bystanders as people entered the compound for a Thanksgiving Day race.

At least 18 others were wounded in the morning attack, said health ministry spokesman Abdullah.

Czech Senate approves US missile base

PRAGUE, Czech Republic - The upper chamber of the Czech Parliament on Thursday approved a deal with Washington to accept a U.S. missile defense installation.

The deal still needs approval by the lower chamber, where the vote is expected to be close because the governing coalition has too few seats to guarantee passage. That vote is not expected before the end of the year.

The proposed U.S. missile defense system calls for a tracking radar in the Czech Republic and 10 interceptor missiles in Poland as part of a shield designed to protect the region from possible attacks from Iran.

Sierra Leone pirates attack Chinese vessel

FREETOWN, Sierra Leone - Pirates attacked a Chinese fishing vessel in a rare attack off West Africa, officials said Thursday.

Four of the pirates, all from neighboring Guinea, were killed early Wednesday in a clash with the Sierra Leone navy, police spokesman Mohamed Samura said. Two were shot and another two drowned, he said. The remaining four were arrested.

'They boarded the vessel and put everybody on board - both Chinese and Sierra Leoneans - under gunpoint,' said Idriss Conteh, the secretary of the AFRIC fishing company, the local agent that was using the vessel.