WORLD IN BRIEF: Olympic luger from Georgia dies after crash

Olympic luger from Georgia dies after crash

VANCOUVER, British Columbia -- A men's Olympic luger from the country of Georgia died Friday after a high-speed crash on a track that is the world's fastest and has raised safety concerns among competitors. IOC president Jacques Rogge said the death hours before the opening ceremony ''clearly casts a shadow over these games.''

Nodar Kumaritashvili lost control of his sled during training, went over the track wall and struck an unpadded steel pole near the finish line at Whistler Sliding Center. Doctors were unable to revive the 21-year-old luger, who died at a hospital, the International Olympic Committee said.

''We are deeply struck by this tragedy and join the IOC in extending our condolences to the family, friends and teammates of this athlete, who came to Vancouver to follow his Olympic dream,'' said John Furlong, chief executive of the Vancouver organizing committee.

Rescue workers were at Kumaritashvili's side within seconds. Chest compressions and mouth-to-mouth resuscitation started less than one minute after the crash, and he was quickly airlifted to a trauma center in Whistler.

2,500 protest Muhammad cartoon

OSLO -- About 2,500 people marched through downtown Oslo in a protest Friday against a Norwegian newspaper that printed a caricature of the Prophet Muhammad.

The demonstrators chanted ''God is great'' in Arabic and waved placards calling for a boycott of the Dagbladet daily.

On Feb. 3, the newspaper published a photograph showing a man in front of a computer screen with a depiction of Muhammad as a pig. The picture accompanied an article that said users were posting offensive material about Muslims and Jews on the Facebook page of Norway's security police.

Dagbladet's acting editor-in-chief, Lars Helle, told The Associated Press that he doesn't regret printing the offending image and that he welcomed Friday's protest.

Raid on arms smugglers in Iraq kills 5

BAGHDAD -- At least five people were killed Friday in an Iraqi-U.S. raid on a village near the Iranian border that targeted suspected weapons smugglers, officials said.

The exact death toll from the morning shootout was not immediately clear. The U.S. military said five militants were killed, while police and government officials from Maysan province in southeast Iraq said as many as 10 civilians died.

U.S. and Iraqi forces said they came under fire as they approached the village of Ali al-Sharqi, about 160 miles southeast of Baghdad. The troops were searching for weapons allegedly smuggled across the border.