WORLD IN BRIEF: S. Korean naval ship sinks; 40 missing

S. Korean naval ship sinks; 40 missing

SEOUL, South Korea -- Word that a South Korean naval ship sank in the tense waters around the disputed maritime border with communist North Korea set off panic: The president convened an emergency meeting and the military dispatched a fleet of ships.

Five hours later, 58 sailors had been pulled to safety but some 40 others were missing, reports said. There was no indication early Saturday that North Korea was to blame for the ship's demise, but troops kept a vigilant watch.

Seoul's action -- hours after North Korea's military threatened ''unpredictable strikes'' against the United States and South Korea -- highlighted the fragility of peace on the divided Korean peninsula.

Challenger claims victory in Iraq election

BAGHDAD -- A jubilant Ayad Allawi claimed victory for his secular, anti-Iranian coalition as final parliamentary returns Friday showed him edging out the bloc of Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, who angrily vowed to fight the results.

The results, if they stand, will give Allawi the first opportunity to form a parliamentary majority and Iraq's next government. But they do not automatically mean that he will become prime minister, and the narrow margin sets the stage for months of political wrangling.

''On this occasion, I'd like to congratulate the Iraqi people and extend the hand of friendship to all neighboring and world countries,'' said Allawi, a secular Shiite politician and former prime minister who appealed across sectarian lines to minority Sunnis who have been out of power since the downfall of Saddam Hussein.

Cuba to vaccinate 1.1M for swine flu

HAVANA -- Cuba will begin vaccinating nearly 10 percent of its citizens against swine flu next week, reversing its previous skepticism about the high cost and effectiveness of immunization to combat the virus.

Communist Party newspaper Granma said Friday that the vaccinations will come in two waves, the first beginning April 1. More than 1.1 million Cubans deemed particularly vulnerable to swine flu will get them in a country of about 11.4 million.

The vaccinations come from stocks donated by the World Health Organization.