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Explosion at key military base in Iran raises questions

Tehran, Iran

Questions arise after military base explosion

A spectacular explosion Sunday night outside Tehran took place deep inside the Parchin military base, where Iran produces key elements of its missiles and other munitions. There were immediately questions whether the blast was an accident or sabotage. The explosion and resulting fire, which Iranian news organizations have described in only general terms, appear to have destroyed several buildings. But it was in a location distant from a part of the base where the International Atomic Energy Agency has been seeking access for years, to investigate reports of suspected experiments on high explosives that could have been used in nuclear weapons.

Sanaa, Yemen

Deadly attack adds to extremist fears

A suicide bomber attacked a crowded square Thursday in the capital, killing more than 40 people and adding to fears that Sunni extremists are mobilizing new attacks against a Shiite rebel group that took control of Sanaa last month. The attack threatened to set off sectarian bloodletting like that ravaging Iraq and Syria.

Gaza City, Gaza Strip

Palestinian unity Cabinet meets

The new Palestinian unity government toured Gaza and held a Cabinet meeting there for the first time Thursday, aiming to assure donor countries that absolute Hamas control has ended and that it can lead the rebuilding of the war-battered territory. In establishing a foothold in Gaza, the new Cabinet, which reports to Western-backed President Mahmoud Abbas, looked to signal that the Palestinians' paralyzing political split has ended. Hamas had seized Gaza from Abbas in 2007, leaving him with only parts of the West Bank.


Assault rifle used to fire on subway

A man used an assault rifle to fire on a train from a subway platform Thursday as it pulled into a business district station, police said. Chicago Police Superintendent Gerry McCarthy said the man was targeting the "L" train, not passengers, and had at least 50 bullets. No one was injured. The suspect, who was not identified, was taken into custody soon after, a few blocks away. McCarthy said the man had a valid firearms owner identification card, but the weapon was stolen.


FEC: Convention donations separate

The Federal Election Commission said Thursday that contributions to presidential convention committees will not count against the annual limit on donations to national parties, allowing wealthy donors to double their support for party operations. The FEC's move was in response to a rare joint request by the Democratic and Republican national committees, which argue they need a new avenue to raise funds after a federal law eliminated public funding for the conventions.


Eyes on Kim for N. Korea holiday

As North Korea's ruling party prepares to mark its 69th anniversary today, the world will be watching to see if leader Kim Jong Un will make his first public appearance in more than a month. Kim's absence, along with suggestions in the North Korean media he might be ill, has generated rumors abroad that all is not well in the isolated country.

Times wires