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BAGHDAD - A bomb exploded Tuesday in a downtown square near the headquarters of an Iranian opposition group, and an official of the group said several civilians were injured.


LONDON - Britain's scandal-ridden royal family was "encouraged" on Wednesday by a phone-in poll giving two-to-one backing for the monarchy, Buckingham Palace said.


ROME - Italy's Constitutional Court met on Wednesday to consider whether to allow 30 proposed referendums to go ahead later this year on issues ranging from reform of the electoral system to restrictions on hunting.


MOSCOW - Nine people froze to death on the streets of Moscow and 162 were taken to the hospital with frostbite over the New Year and Russian Orthodox Christmas holidays.

South Africa

CAPE TOWN - Motorists on one of South Africa's busiest highways face a new wildlife hazard - a troop of baboons who ambush them with showers of rocks. Traffic officials said Wednesday that three attacks had been reported in recent weeks on the highway between Cape Town and Jo-han-nes-burg where it passes through a spectacular mountain pass.


BERLIN - A Bosnian refugee who hijacked a plane flying from Berlin to Vienna wielded a short kitchen knife of the sort that passengers are normally permitted to take on board, Berlin airport security said on Wednesday.


ZURICH - Swiss bankers and world Jewish groups will continue working together to track lost Holocaust accounts despite lingering tension over a Swiss minister's claim of Jewish "blackmail," an influential banker said Wednesday.


PALERMO - A Turkish cargo ship sank in rough water Wednesday between Sardinia and Sicily, Italy's two biggest islands. At least four crew members died and one was missing, Palermo port officials said.


ISLAMABAD - Former cricket star Imran Khan, bidding to clean up Pakistani politics, is facing what he calls a campaign to besmirch his name ahead of February 3 elections. An ex-girlfriend, Sita White, has emerged from his playboy past saying that he is the father of her 4-year-old daughter. Reports that she had filed a paternity suit in a Los Angeles court on Monday have made headlines in the local press.


RANGOON - Saw U Rei, a member of opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi's political party, has been sentenced to 10 years in prison for allegedly having links to ethnic rebels and publishing illegal documents.


PHNOM PENH - Employees at a foreign-owned garment factory tried to protest long hours and low pay Wednesday, but riot police forced an opposition leader to leave and the frightened workers returned to their jobs.


MANILA - The Philippines has banned one of this year's Nobel Peace Prize winners from its territory, prompting protests Wednesday from opposition leaders and human rights activists. The Cabinet committee on national security said East Timor independence leader Jose Ramos-Horta could not enter the Philippines because of "national security."