Bombs kill at least 40 people; officials eye security bribes

Bombs pounded six Iraqi cities and towns Tuesday, killing at least 40 people and raising suspicion that security forces might be assisting terrorists in attacking Shiite Muslims.

The onslaught came just ahead of a religious pilgrimage that could attract even more violence.

A senior Iraqi intelligence official said checkpoint guards may have been bribed to help al-Qaida-linked Sunni insurgents plant bombs at Shiite marketplaces.

A spike in violence over the last month is blamed partially on Iraq’s political crisis, which pits Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki’s Shiite-led government against rival Shiite politicians, Sunni Muslims and ethnic Kurds.

Also, the crisis in neighboring Syria may have allowed weapons intended for the opposition to President Bashar Assad to be siphoned off to Iraqi insurgents.


Iran’s government reports long-range missile launch

Iran said Tuesday it test-fired several ballistic missiles, including a long-range variety meant to dissuade an Israeli or U.S. attack, alongside a push by Washington to beef up its military might in the region.

The powerful Revolutionary Guard’s acting commander told state TV that the tests, aimed at mock enemy bases in a war games exercise, were a response to refusal by Israel and the U.S. to rule out military strikes to stop Iran’s nuclear program.

“It is a response to the political impoliteness of those who talk about all options being on the table,” Gen. Hossein Salami said.

The official IRNA news agency said the surface-to-surface missiles successfully hit their targets. The semi-official Fars said the salvos included the so-called Shahab-3 missile.

Iran has tested a variety of missiles in previous war games, including a Shahab-3 variant with a range of 1,243 miles that can reach Israel and southern Europe. The missiles are also capable of hitting U.S. bases in the region.

Iranian state TV showed video of several missiles being launched.


Clemency granted to chimps that attacked U.S. student

Two adult chimpanzees that viciously attacked a U.S. student at a primate sanctuary in South Africa were defending their territory and will be allowed to live, the lead government investigator said Tuesday.

Conservationist Dries Pienaar blamed human error for Thursday’s attack. But one of the sanctuary managers, Eugene Cussons, said he did not blame Andrew Oberle for crossing between two safety fences to retrieve a rock that the chimps were in the habit of throwing at tourists.

Oberle was in critical condition and in a medically induced coma in the hospital Monday. On Tuesday, doctors declined to describe his condition, saying the family is asking for privacy.

Pienaar said he found no negligence on the part of the Jane Goodall Institute’s Chimpanzee Eden SA in eastern South Africa.

“The only thing that happened is Andrew stepped over the small barrier fence and went right up to the electric fence,” he said. “We all know that they are tame chimps, but he shouldn’t have done that, he’s a researcher, he’s supposed to read the body language.”