Pope meets with Jewish leaders

VATICAN CITY - The Catholic Church and Jewish leaders have had their differences, but Pope Benedict XVI put them aside to calm the most recent fury.

The 81-year-old pope received American Jewish leaders in the frescoed Consistory Hall, assured them he is planning to visit Israel in May and issued his strongest condemnation of Holocaust denial.

The audience Thursday 'brought the sunshine' to Catholic-Jewish relations, said New York Rabbi Arthur Schneier in describing an atmosphere that seemed out of the question last week when anger was so deep it appeared to put the trip in jeopardy.

The trip, talked about since the start of the German pope's papacy in 2005, has been up in the air for some time due to problems raised by both sides. The latest jolt came when Benedict last month lifted the excommunications of four ultraconservative bishops - one of whom denied that Jews were gassed by the Nazis during World War II.

8 more killed in Iraq bombing

BAGHDAD - A suicide bomber detonated an explosive belt packed with nails among Shiite worshippers Thursday in a holy city south of Baghdad, killing eight pilgrims and wounding more than 50, police and hospital officials said.

It was the second deadly attack on pilgrims in two days, in what appeared to be a Sunni extremist campaign to discredit Iraq's mostly Shiite security forces and rekindle the sectarian conflict that nearly plunged the country into full-scale civil war two years ago.

The latest attacks, though smaller than those of past years, showed that al-Qaida and other Sunni extremists may have been severely weakened but they have not been defeated.

Thursday's blast occurred about 200 yards (meters) from the Imam Hussein shrine in Karbala, the focal point of ceremonies that culminate Monday and draw hundreds of thousands of worshippers from throughout the Shiite world.

Skinheads attack pregnant woman

GENEVA - Zurich police on Thursday were investigating an alleged skinhead assault on a pregnant Brazilian woman that caused her to miscarry twins and left her scarred with the initials of Switzerland's main right-wing party.

Details of the attack shocked the Swiss public and prompted Brazilian officials to suggest it was prompted by xenophobia.

Zurich police said details were not yet clear but a man called Monday evening to report that a woman at a Zurich train station needed help. When police found her, she had the letters carved into her skin and told them she had suffered a miscarriage.

Stolen tanks found in Poland

WARSAW, Poland - Polish police said thieves stole four Soviet-era tanks that were being used for target practice at an army test range in eastern Poland.

Each weighs more than 20 tons and police suspect they were stolen for scrap metal.

The T-34 and T-55 tanks were taken Tuesday night from the range at Jagodne.

Police spokeswoman Anna Smarzak said Thursday that three of the tanks were found at a private car park in Lublin. The other was found aboard a trailer en route to a steel mill. The tanks had been stripped of their engines long ago.

US Navy seizes alleged pirates

ABOARD THE USNS LEWIS AND CLARK - The U.S. Navy apprehended suspected pirates Thursday for a second consecutive day in the Gulf of Aden, a treacherous waterway between Somalia and Yemen where international forces have been battling pirates preying on commercial vessels.

The high-seas action came as a Ukrainian cargo ship laden with tanks and heavy weapons, which Somali pirates released last week after holding it for more than four months, docked at a Kenyan port.

Clinton at attend Gaza conference

WASHINGTON - Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton will attend an international donors conference next month in Cairo aimed at raising money to rebuild Gaza after Israel's recent military operations against Palestinian militants there, a senior Egyptian official said.

After meeting with Clinton at the State Department, Foreign Minister Ahmed Aboul Gheit told reporters he had invited the secretary to the March 2 meeting and that she had accepted. The department has not yet announced Clinton's trip but has said the U.S. will be represented at a high level.