SANAA, Yemen

Yemen’s president wounded in rocket attack on palace

President Ali Abdullah Saleh was wounded when rebellious tribesmen struck his palace with rockets Friday, targeting him for the first time in a dramatic escalation of fighting that has turned parts of the capital into a battleground and pushed Yemen toward civil war.

One of the rockets smashed into a mosque on the palace grounds where the president was praying along with his top leadership. It was a stunning hit on the regime’s most senior figures: Among the nine wounded were the prime minister, Saleh’s powerful top security adviser and the two heads of parliament, as well as the cleric leading prayers. Seven guards were killed.

Officials said Saleh had only slight injuries, but there were indications the injuries may have been more severe. Saleh, in his late 60s, was taken to a Defense Ministry hospital, while officials promised repeatedly that he would soon appear in public. But by late Friday, state TV had aired only an audio message from the president, with an old still photo.


Suicide bombers launch twin attacks that kill 21

A suicide bomber attacked a mosque filled with Iraqi politicians and policemen Friday and another blew himself up inside the hospital where the wounded were taken, killing a total of 21 people in Saddam Hussein’s hometown.

The twin attacks — as well as the fact that the bombers were able to infiltrate areas that were supposed to be secure — left people in Tikrit feeling under siege.

It was the third major attack in Tikrit this year, reflecting the difficulties Iraqi security forces face in protecting their own people from Sunni insurgents still intent on undermining the country’s post-Saddam leaders, many of whom are Shiite. Such violence is all the more troubling because of the approaching year-end deadline for American forces to leave.


Food poisoning cases in U.S. traced to northern Germany

Four people in the United States were apparently sickened by the food poisoning outbreak in Europe, health officials said Friday. Three are hospitalized with a serious complication.

All four were in northern Germany in May. Though they didn’t stay at the same hotel or eat at the same restaurants, officials are confident that they were infected with E. coli in that country.

Three of them — two women and a man — are hospitalized with kidney failure, a complication of E. coli that has become a hallmark of the outbreak. One of the four fell ill while on a plane to the United States.

Two other cases are being investigated in U.S. service members in Germany, said Dr. Chris Braden of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The source of the outbreak hasn’t been pinpointed but the focus has been on fresh tomatoes, lettuce and cucumbers.


Appeals court allows prayer at high school graduation

Public prayer will be allowed at a Texas high school graduation after a federal appeals court Friday reversed a ban won by an agnostic family that claimed ceremony traditions such as invocations were unconstitutional.

The 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals granted an emergency appeal filed by the Medina Valley Independent School District. Its San Antonio-area high school was ordered by a federal judge earlier this week to forbid students from asking audience members to join in prayer or bow their heads during today’s graduation.

The lawsuit was filed on behalf of Christa and Danny Schultz, who said watching their son receive a diploma this weekend would amount to forced religious participation. The Castroville parents argued that traditions such as invocation and benediction excluded their beliefs.

Texas Gov. Rick Perry and various conservative groups, which had rallied to the defense of the school, hailed Friday’s ruling by the three-judge panel.

“It should not be illegal for students to say a prayer at a graduation ceremony. Now, the federal Court of Appeals agrees,” said Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott, who filed a brief in support of the school.


Wildfire now fourth-largest blaze in history of Arizona

One of the largest wildfires in Arizona’s history has burned four summer cabins while casting an orange glow over people fleeing other mountain homes.

Dan Bastion, a spokesman for crews battling the Wallow fire near the New Mexico border, said the cabins burned were on the Beaver Creek Guest Ranch. A mobile home also was burned.

The 106,000-acre fire is now the fourth-largest in state history. The Rodeo-Chediski fire burned 469,000 acres in 2002, the Cave Creek complex fire burned 248,000 acres in 2005, and the Willow fire burned 120,000 acres in 2004.