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KABUL — Al-Qaida and other militants have smuggled explosives, weapons and millions of dollars in cash into Afghanistan for a resurgent terror campaign, the country's defense minister warned on Wednesday. His comments came after an unprecedented spate of suicide assaults — the latest on Wednesday when a bomber attacked a U.S. military convoy in the southern city of Kandahar, killing three civilians.


VIENNA — Christian leaders must work harder to clear away historic prejudices among Muslims or continue to lose ground to Islamic radicals, Austria's top Roman Catholic cleric urged Wednesday to close a conference on Islam's global roles. Cardinal Christoph Schoenborn said Christian churches should fully examine past conflicts linked to "missionary zeal" — from the medieval Crusades to Europe's colonial expansion in Muslim lands — as a way to advance dialogue with moderate Islamic scholars and clerics. He also called on Islamic leaders to face greater responsibility for allowing extremism to take root.


STRASBOURG — The European Parliament voted Wednesday to create an EU-wide blacklist of airlines that do not meet international standards, one of a series of measures aimed at improving air safety. Responding to a string of fatal plane crashes that claimed hundreds of lives this year, European Union lawmakers want carriers deemed unsafe to be banned from operating anywhere in the EU. At the moment, an airline banned in one EU member state can still operate in another.


BAGHDAD — A top Interior Ministry official said Wednesday the 173 malnourished prisoners found by U.S. forces included all Iraqi sects, playing down allegations of a campaign by Shiite-led security forces to suppress Sunni Arabs ahead of next month's election. The Shiite-led government sought to dampen Sunni outrage over revelations Tuesday by Prime Minister Ibrahim al-Jaafari that the detainees, some showing signs of torture, were found last weekend by U.S. troops at an Interior Ministry lockup in the capital.


AMMAN — The would-be suicide bomber who failed to detonate her explosives belt in an Amman hotel was arrested in the northeastern city of Salt where she had sought the help of relatives, not in Amman as previously announced, the prime minister said Wednesday. The announcement raises the possibility that the Iraqi woman was handed over to authorities by her sister's relatives, presenting a new twist in the case of Amman's triple hotel bombings.

North Korea

North Korea has ordered non-governmental European aid groups to leave the country after the European Union submitted a U.N. resolution criticizing Pyongyang's human rights record, aid workers said Wednesday. The order covers at least 11 of the 12 foreign non-governmental organizations in the isolated North, which has struggled for a decade with severe food shortages. The groups affected are running health, sanitation, forestry and other programs.


RAWALPINDI — Pakistan's president appealed Wednesday for more than $5 billion in aid to rebuild the earthquake-ravaged north but said his country will fend for itself if the world doesn't deliver. The appeal came as the United Nations warned again that thousands could die from cold, disease and hunger in the quake zone this winter.


WARSAW— Poland's historical institute cleared Solidarity founder and former President Lech Walesa on Wednesday of allegations he collaborated with the communist-era secret police, formally declaring him a victim of the feared intelligence apparatus. "Poland has a hero who should be our communal hero and around whom we should unite our history," Leon Kieres, the acting head of the National Remembrance Institute, said following the announcement.


MADRID — Reports of alleged CIA use of Spain as a stopover point for transporting suspected Islamic terrorists spread Wednesday to the Canary Islands, where the regional government said it had asked Madrid to explain if airports there were also used for covert missions. The Spanish archipelago off west Africa joins the Mediterranean island of Mallorca in the controversy.