WORLD IN BRIEF: Somali pirates seize tanker, cargo ship



Somali pirates seize tanker, cargo ship

NAIROBI, Kenya -- Striking into the heavily patrolled Gulf of Aden, Somali pirates seized a British-flagged chemical tanker -- the first merchant vessel to be hijacked there in nearly six months, the same day that a ship was taken by brigands in the Indian Ocean, officials said Tuesday.

The double hijacking late Monday shows that, a year after an international naval armada began deploying off Somalia to protect shipping, piracy remains a problem. Monday's attacks occurred more than 1,000 miles apart, indicating the wide range of territory prowled by pirates and underscoring the difficulty of policing such a large area.

Iranian security forces intensify crackdown

TEHRAN, Iran -- Iranian security forces intensified their crackdown on anti-government supporters Tuesday, arresting relatives of the country's Nobel laureate and the main opposition leader, and limiting the movement of another top opposition leader.

Iran also accused the U.S. and Britain of fomenting the recent violence, threatening to ''slap'' Britain in the face as it summoned the British ambassador to an urgent meeting. Clashes on Sunday left at least eight people dead in a confrontation that has become an increasingly bitter and violent.

President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad shrugged off Sunday's protests as ''a play ordered by Zionists and Americans'' and criticized Barack Obama and Britain for allegedly supporting the protesters.

Congressmen press Afghanistan to delay election

KABUL -- U.S. Congressmen said Tuesday they are urging Afghan President Hamid Karzai to delay the next parliamentary ballot until electoral reforms are in place or risk American financial support for his government.

Karzai insists the elections must be held in May despite widespread concerns about their credibility, the U.S. legislators said.

The standoff comes in the wake of August's heavily disputed presidential election. The international community had hoped that election would affirm the government's credibility. Instead, massive fraud tarnished the Karzai government's reputation.

Robber takes $144,330 in jewels from shop

PARIS -- French police say an armed robber burst into a jewelry store in southern Paris and made off with $144,330 worth of watches and jewels.

Police said the robber, who wore a motorcycle helmet, fired his handgun during Tuesday's heist at the shop on a bustling avenue in southern Paris. Nobody was injured, though one employee complained of hearing problems.

The robber demanded that employees hand over jewelry and watches laid out in display cases, then he fled on a motor scooter.

Poland turns to Sweden in probe of Auschwitz theft

WARSAW, Poland -- Poland will formally seek Sweden's help in investigating the theft of the ''Arbeit Macht Frei'' sign from the Auschwitz memorial, confirming that Polish authorities suspect a Swedish link in the crime.

Polish media have been reporting that the theft was commissioned by a collector living in Sweden, but investigators have not confirmed that.

The sign, which means ''Work Sets You Free,'' was stolen earlier this month and found two days later cut into three pieces. Police have arrested five men whom they described as common criminals who likely stole the sign on a commission from abroad.

Doctors leave 9 needles in boy's body

SAO PAULO -- Brazilian doctors have decided not to immediately remove nine of the 31 needles found in a toddler's body because his life is no longer in danger.

Doctor Roque Aras said Tuesday that the remaining needles are small and don't pose a significant threat. Aras isn't ruling out future operations, however.

The 2-year-old boy had his third surgery in 10 days on Monday to extract four needles from his neck. Doctors removed 14 more from his intestines, liver and bladder last week, and four from near his heart and lungs earlier.

Officials: Gunmen kill 5 Sunni guards in Iraq

BAGHDAD -- Gunmen killed five Sunni security guards -- including one by beheading -- in a gruesome pre-dawn slaying Tuesday at a village checkpoint in central Iraq, officials said.

The five victims were members of the Sons of Iraq, or Awakening Councils -- a Sunni-dominated security force now on the government payroll that has been targeted in revenge attacks after helping turn the tide against al-Qaida.

Authorities were alerted to the checkpoint in the village of Tal Massoud shortly after the 2 a.m. shooting,