Attacks in Pakistan kill 50, leave 100 others wounded

At least 50 people were killed and more than 100 wounded in a string of attacks Sunday across Pakistan against security forces and the minority Shiite community. It was the most violent day since a new government took over in June, officials said.

The worst attack was the suicide bombing of a Shiite mosque in southwestern Quetta city, killing 28 members of the community, which has been targeted for violence frequently in recent years. Minutes later, another blast hit a shopping center in the same area.

Suspected militants also attacked two convoys of security forces in northwestern Pakistan, killing 22 people and injuring 56, officials said.

TEL AVIV, Israel

Kerry says he narrowed gap between Israel, Palestinians

Secretary of State John Kerry completed a new round of shuttle diplomacy Sunday without a hoped-for breakthrough in relaunching Mideast peace talks, but said he had narrowed the gap between Israel and the Palestinians and vowed to return to the region soon to complete his mission.

Kerry said he was working on an emerging “package” meant to bring the sides together, and said he would leave a team of aides in the region to continue the efforts.

AMMAN, Jordan

Civil war has cost $15 billion in losses, Syrian official says

More than two years of fighting in Syria’s civil war has damaged some 9,000 state buildings and run up $15 billion in losses to the public sector, a government minister said Sunday.

In comments published in Syrian newspapers, Local Administration Minister Omar Al Ibrahim Ghalaounji said the $15 billion in damages to the public sector were sustained between March 2011, when the uprising against President Bashar Assad began, and March 2013.

Syria’s civil war has laid waste to entire neighborhoods in the country’s cities and towns, destroyed much of its manufacturing base and infrastructure and brought oil production and exports to a halt. More than 1 million people have fled the country and millions more are displaced within it. According to a U.N. estimate, more than 93,000 people have been killed. .


At least 29 people killed after car hits gas tanker

A car crashed into a moving gas tanker, sparking a fire that killed at least 29 people and left scores more badly burned, Ugandan police said Sunday.

Police said the tanker exploded after colliding with a passenger car late Saturday on the outskirts of the Ugandan capital, Kampala, and that investigators concluded the crash was an accident.

Police said the tanker was hit from behind by a car. Gas started leaking, and suddenly the tanker went up in flames that engulfed nearby cars and scores of people who had swarmed around the vehicle.

On Sunday, police were still looking for dead bodies in a nearby swamp where many of the victims had run to douse themselves after catching fire.

KABUL, Afghanistan

U.S. combat deaths decline to lowest level since 2008

The shift to Afghan security forces leading in combat and the ongoing reduction of U.S. troops drove American combat deaths to their lowest number in five years for the first half of 2013.

“Afghan National Security Forces are primarily the units in contact with enemy forces, rather than ISAF personnel,” Lt. Tamarac Dyer, a spokeswoman for the U.S.-led International Security Assistance Force wrote in an emailed response to questions about casualties.

In the first six months of the year, 72 Americans were killed in combat in Afghanistan, according to, a website that tracks military deaths. The last year when the number of dead was comparable for the period was 2008. Then, 66 Americans died from January through June, and 155 were killed in the full year. The worst year for U.S. troops was 2010, when 499 Americans died. Fatalities have totaled more than 2,200 since the war began in 2001.

— From news service reports