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World Briefs June 21, 2010

| June 21, 2010 9:00 PM

Crews work to stop gushing oil leak

ON THE GULF OF MEXICO - Drilling crews are grinding ever deeper to build the relief wells that are the best hope of stopping the massive oil leak at the bottom of the Gulf of Mexico.

The crew of Transocean Ltd.'s Development Driller II finished pouring cement Sunday morning on a section of metal casing lining one of two relief wells now at roughly 5,000 feet, said Mickey Fruge, BP's wellsite leader aboard the rig. When that cement is firm on Monday, the rig's crew will keep extending the well.

BP and government officials say the wells are the best option for cutting off the gusher that has spilled as much as 125 million gallons into the Gulf since the Transocean drilling rig Deepwater Horizon exploded April 20, killing 11 workers. A separate rig had drilled to a depth of nearly 11,000 feet, a BP spokesman said Sunday.

Suicide bombs kill 33 in Iraq

BAGHDAD - Suicide bombers in a crowded Baghdad commercial district and Saddam Hussein's hometown of Tikrit killed at least 33 people Sunday as insurgents tried to turn a monthslong deadlock over forming a new Iraqi government to their advantage.

The attacks added weight to warnings that insurgents would try to foment unrest as politicians squabble over forming a new government more than three months after inconclusive national elections.

The latest violence began when bombers drove two cars packed with nearly 180 pounds of ammonium nitrate toward the gates of the Trade Bank of Iraq building in Baghdad and detonated the explosives after striking the surrounding blast walls, said Iraqi military spokesman Maj. Gen. Qassim al-Moussawi.

Al-Moussawi said at least 18 people were killed and 42 wounded. But three Iraqi police officials and a doctor at the Yarmouk hospital where many victims were taken put the toll at 28 killed and 57 wounded. Conflicting casualty tolls are common in the chaotic aftermath of bombings in Iraq.

Wildfire forces more evacuations

FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. - Fire officials say a second wildfire is forcing evacuations in neighborhoods north of Flagstaff, Ariz.

Coconino County authorities say the Timberline Estates, Wupatki Trails and the Fernwood neighborhood are being evacuated.

Fire information officials could not immediately say how many people were being asked to leave their homes.

Coconino National Forest spokeswoman Karen Malis-Clark says the blaze was spotted Sunday afternoon on the north end of Shultz Pass, between the San Francisco Peaks and Mount Elden. She says the fire is torching treetops and sending up an impressive column of smoke.

Hidden bombs rock Afghanistan

KABUL, Afghanistan - Two bombs hidden in push carts exploded less than a half hour apart Sunday in one of Afghanistan's most dangerous provinces, underscoring the continued security threat despite years of trying to bring peace to the unstable south.

The double explosions in Helmand province were just two in a series of attacks reported over the weekend across the country.

They came a day after a U.N. report painted a grim picture of the security situation in Afghanistan, saying roadside bombings and assassinations have soared in the first four months of the year. In Washington, Defense Secretary Robert Gates said on "Fox News Sunday" that while the war is a "tough pull," momentum was shifting toward the U.S. troops and their Afghan and international partners.

- The Associated Press

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