Attacks across Iraq kill 44 in bombings targeting police, pilgrims ahead of Arab summit
BAGHDAD (AP) — Bombings across Iraq killed 44 people on Tuesday, striking at police and Shiite pilgrims in a torrent of violence that officials had dreaded in the run-up to a Baghdad meeting of the Arab world's top leaders, which the government hoped would showcase the nation's stability.
There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the attacks, which also wounded nearly 200 people. But authorities have feared al-Qaida or its Sunni sympathizers would try to thwart next week's annual Arab League summit.
The gathering is to be held in Iraq for the first time in a generation. Plans for Baghdad to host the meeting last year were postponed, in part because of concerns about Iraq's security.
One of the deadliest strikes on Tuesday hit the Shiite holy city of Karbala, where officials said two car bombs exploded in a crowded shopping and restaurant area. Thirteen people were killed and another 50 were wounded in that attack, said local provincial council member Hussein Shadhan al-Aboudi.
"The intention of these attacks is to destabilize the security situation in Karbala and other Iraqi cities and to shake the people's confidence on the government," al-Aboudi said. "It seems that the terrorists want to abort the upcoming Arab Summit in Baghdad. The message is directed to the Arab leaders that Iraq is not safe enough to be visited."
French school killer may have filmed shootings that targeted Jewish school
TOULOUSE, France (AP) — A gunman who killed four people at a French Jewish school may have filmed the attack, the interior minister said Tuesday, as hundreds of police combed southern France for the killer, suspected in three other deaths.
Interior Minister Claude Gueant said the attacker was "wearing around his neck an apparatus" that could be used to film and post video online. He said that gave investigators new clues to the killer's "profile," though he admitted that they don't appear to close to an arrest.
Gueant described the suspect as "someone very cold, very determined, very much a master of his movements, and by consequence, very cruel."
Asked whether the gunman recorded the scene, Gueant responded, "We can imagine that." But he added that authorities have not yet found any images of the killings online.
Gueant was speaking in the city of Toulouse, where an unidentified assailant opened fire at a Jewish school Monday, killing a rabbi and his two sons and the daughter of the school principal. Authorities say one of the same weapons was used in killings of three French paratroopers last week.
PEORIA, Ill. (AP) — As they await an Illinois primary vote whose outcome is hardly assured, Mitt Romney is betting his message of economic proficiency will resonate with Republican voters more than Rick Santorum's sharply honed conservatism.
Both men were competing for the 54 delegates at stake Tuesday in Illinois. They were looking to score a victory in a state that was not only home to President Barack Obama but is also one of the last major battlegrounds before a three-week lull in April.
Romney's confidence was on display Monday, while Santorum was forced on the defensive for first declaring that the economy was not a top issue in the campaign and then stating that "the campaign doesn't hinge on unemployment rates."
By day's end, Santorum had conceded that the economy and unemployment were important but said they were symptoms of what he described as broader ills: government intrusion and eroding freedom.
Romney on Tuesday denounced Obama's economic policies, choosing to make his remarks at the very university where the president once taught constitutional law.