BAGHDAD

Suicide bombers kill 31 at Shiite campaign rally

Suicide bombers killed 31 people Friday at a sports stadium hosting a campaign rally for thousands of supporters of a militant Shiite group before parliamentary elections, authorities said – an attack that could unleash more sectarian violence.

An al-Qaida breakaway group, the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, claimed responsibility for the attack at the Industrial Stadium in eastern Baghdad, which drew about 10,000 backers of the Iranian-backed Asaib Ahl al-Haq group.

It said on a militant website that the bombings were to avenge what it called the killing of Sunnis and their forced removal from their homes by Shiite militias.

RIYADH, Saudi Arabia

Woman will get lashes, jail for driving, resisting arrest

A woman in Saudi Arabia was sentenced this week to 150 lashes and eight months in jail for driving and striking police officers who arrested her, news websites in the kingdom reported.

Women in the conservative country are prohibited from driving.

It appeared that the particularly harsh sentence was handed down because of the charges of resisting arrest and attacking police officers, according to various reports.

NORFOLK, Va.

Three people, dog rescued from raft after sailboat sinks

Three people and a dog were rescued Friday from a life raft in the Atlantic Ocean about 900 miles northeast of Bermuda after their sailboat sank in a storm, according to the U.S. Coast Guard.

The 49-foot-sailboat sank Thursday evening after being battered from two days of storms, according to an audio recording with the sailboat’s captain.

“We were preparing to die,” said 55-year-old Leonard Rorke, a United Kingdom citizen who is the sailboat’s owner.

Also rescued were 29-year-old Henri Worthalter of Belgium, 50-year-old Lisa Rorke of the U.K. and a Jack Russell terrier.

Coast Guard officials were notified Thursday by the International Rescue Center after a message came in saying people were in a life raft and needed help. Coast Guard watch standers in Portsmouth, Va., issued a call for help about 6:30 p.m.

WASHINGTON

New bill could help Israel with Visa Waiver Program

A campaign to allow Israelis to enter the United States without a visa is gaining steam in Congress, but is still running into a brick wall with the Obama administration over the U.S. government’s most elementary demand: that the Jewish state provide the same treatment at its borders to all Americans, even if they are Arab or Muslim.

Objections from U.S. officials and some lawmakers blocked a congressional effort over the last year that could have allowed Israel to maintain discriminatory entry policies for certain groups of Americans, which no other country can do if its citizens are able to visit the U.S. without visas. However, a new version of proposed legislation could offer Israel greater flexibility in the Visa Waiver Program, and the administration has pledged to work with Israel to help it move closer to qualifying for the program.

– From news service reports