Iraq unveils results of prison abuse investigation

BAGHDAD - Iraq's interior minister said Tuesday more than 40 police officers face charges after an investigation into prison abuse found inmates incarcerated without warrants and others with their rights violated.

Jawad al-Bolani's announcement came as the government tried to contain a scandal over charges of widespread torture in Iraqi prisons, which is threatening to become a major issue ahead of Jan. 30 national elections.

He spoke during a tour of one of the most notorious prisons in eastern Baghdad, where prisoners were packed by the dozens into small cells with clothes hung on the wall to dry and pillows on the floor.

Carter visit seeks to gain Hamas support

GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip - Former President Jimmy Carter criticized Israel's blockade during a trip to Gaza on Tuesday, while encouraging the territory's Hamas rulers to accept international conditions for ending its boycott of the militant Islamic group.

During his visit, Hamas security found what appeared to be explosives buried in a sand dune next to Carter's route. No one was hurt, and it was unclear if the former president was being targeted.

Speaking at a graduation for students from United Nations-run schools in Gaza City, Carter criticized the Gaza blockade imposed by Israel and Egypt after Hamas took control, saying Gazans 'are treated more like animals than human beings.'

Pakistan on verge of major offensive

ISLAMABAD - Pakistan's army launched airstrikes and ferried in tanks and artillery as it confirmed Tuesday that it was preparing a major offensive against insurgents in al-Qaida and the Taliban's safest haven along the Afghan border.

The highly anticipated military operation in South Waziristan is seen as a potential turning point in the yearslong and sometimes half-hearted fight against militancy in Pakistan. It could also help curb Taliban attacks on Western forces in neighboring Afghanistan.

But the offensive in the lawless tribal region will also be the toughest yet for Pakistan's military, testing both its fighting capability and the government's will to see it through, analysts said.