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WORLD IN BRIEF: Iraq working for Americans' release in Iran

Photo by Anonymous

Photo by Anonymous

Iraq working for Americans' release in Iran

BAGHDAD -- An Iraqi official said Baghdad has contacted Tehran in a bid to secure the release of three Americans detained in Iran, but has received no reply.

Foreign undersecretary Labid Abawi said Saturday that Iraq has sent messages and made ''several efforts'' to ensure the release of the Americans.

He said Tehran has not responded and there were no plans to hand them over to Iraq at the current time.

The Americans were detained by Iranian authorities after having crossed an unmarked border into Iran while hiking in northern Iraq in July.

Italian police arrest 2 linked to Mumbai attacks

ROME -- Italian police on Saturday arrested a Pakistani father and son who allegedly spent just over $200 to set up a reliable and untraceable phone network that was used by the militants who carried out last year's terror attacks in Mumbai, India.

The two were arrested in an early morning raid in Brescia, where they ran a money transfer agency, and it is was not immediately clear if they were aware of the purpose their funds had served, police in the northern Italian city said.

Sri Lanka to release 136,000 war refugees

MANIK FARM, Sri Lanka -- Sri Lanka will release next month the remaining 136,000 Tamil refugees still in the squalid and overrun government camps where they've been detained since the country's civil war ended six months ago, a top official said Saturday.

Some 300,000 war refugees were forced into the camps after fleeing the final months of the government's decades-long war with the separatist Tamil Tiger rebels, which ended in May.

42 killed in coal mine blast

HARBIN, China -- Rescuers working in frigid cold and darkness tried to reach 66 people believed trapped a third of a mile underground after a huge gas explosion Saturday ripped through a coal mine in northern China, killing at least 42 people.

The pre-dawn blast at the state-run Xinxing mine in Heilongjiang province near the border with Russia is latest to hit China's mining industry, the world's deadliest. Authorities said parlous safety is improving, but hundreds still die in major accidents each year.

Large state-owned coal mines, such as Xinxing, are generally considered safer than smaller, private ones that account for the bulk of production.

Life sought for US suspect in Italian murder

PERUGIA, Italy -- Prosecutors on Saturday requested life in prison for an American student and her ex-boyfriend accused in the fatal stabbing of her British roommate during a drug-fueled sex game -- charges the U.S. woman dismissed as ''pure fantasy.''

In their closing arguments, the prosecutors said Amanda Knox and Italian Raffaele Sollecito should be convicted on charges of murder and sexual violence for the 2007 slaying of Meredith Kercher.

They deny wrongdoing.

Iraqi parliament seeks to end election crisis

BAGHDAD -- Iraqi lawmakers on Saturday sought a compromise in a dispute over an election law that was vetoed by a vice president, throwing national polls slated for January into question.

Parliament had planned to vote Saturday on how to resolve the issue, but delayed the proceeding until today while lawmakers attempted to find a solution acceptable to all political blocs in a nation marked by ethnic and sectarian divisions.

Vice President Tariq al-Hashemi, a Sunni Arab, vetoed the legislation earlier this week because he wants more seats allocated for Iraqis living abroad, most of whom are Sunnis who fled the war. The demand reflects a sense of insecurity among many Sunnis who dominated Iraq under Saddam Hussein, but now must contend with a resurgent Shiite majority.

Germany plans to send trial observer to NY

BERLIN -- A German government official said the nation will send an observer to the upcoming trial in New York of the professed mastermind of the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks and four accused henchmen.

Justice Ministry spokeswoman Katharina Jahntz on Saturday confirmed a report in Der Spiegel that a German observer would attend the trial to ensure that no evidence provided by Germany would be used to apply the death penalty.

U.S. authorities announced last week that Khalid Sheikh Mohammed would be tried by a New York court. No date has been set.