Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad speaks at recent Iran National Day celebration. He is not allowed to run for a 3rd term in the upcoming June presidential race.
TEHRAN, Iran (AP) -- Iran's powerful former president Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani has entered the race for the June presidential election.
Simultaneously, President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's close confident Esfandiar Rahim Mashaei also signed up in the last minutes before Saturday's registration deadline.
State TV showed both men at the Interior Ministry registering their names. A smiling Ahmadinejad accompanied Mashaei and raised the man's hand in a gesture of support.
The registration of the two hopefuls puts forward a tough challenge to conservative candidates loyal to Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, and will likely intensify competition between rival groups at the June 14 vote.
Rafsanjani is now the prime hopeful for reformists, who were widely crushed and left leaderless after massive street protests following Ahmadinejad's disputed 2009 election victory.
SAVAR, Bangladesh (AP) -- Police say the death toll from the collapse of a garment factory building in Bangladesh has soared past 1,100 as recovery operations continue.
Doctors say a seamstress who was rescued 17 days after the eight-story building collapsed is recovering in a hospital, but is exhausted, panicked and dehydrated.
Her discovery in the rubble Friday brought a boost to the rescue workers. By Saturday, they had resumed their grim task and the death toll reached 1,115 in the world's worst garment industry disaster.
`'We will not leave the operation until the last dead body and living person is found," said Maj. Gen. Chowdhury Hasan Suhrawardy, the head of the local military units in charge of rescue operations.
YANGON, Myanmar (AP) -- Myanmar's government is warning that a cyclone barreling north in the Bay of Bengal could slam into the country's coast next week.
Humanitarian groups are worried the storm could flood camps in the region that are housing tens of thousands of people who fled sectarian violence last year.
A Meteorology Department official, Tun Lwin, said Saturday that the brunt of the storm is currently heading northwest toward Bangladesh.
But he said its direction could shift northeast and hit Myanmar's Rakhine state in the middle of next week.
Around 125,000 people -- mostly Muslims -- are living in cramped tents and makeshift shelters in that area.
The U.N. is urging Myanmar's government to move the most vulnerable people to higher ground in case of storm surges.
AYLESBURY, England (AP) -- The Group of Seven leading industrial economies have wrapped up two days of discussions and committed themselves to nurturing the global economic recovery and to not manipulate their exchange rates.
British finance minister George Osborne says Saturday that the G-7 reaffirmed their commitment on exchange rates and to make sure policies are "oriented towards achieving domestic objectives."
His comments come amid talk that Japan is targeting a lower yen to help it out of a near two-decade period of stagnation. On Thursday, the dollar breached the 100 yen mark for the first time in over four years.
However, Japanese officials insist the main motive behind their super-aggressive monetary policy is to turn around their domestic economy.
So far, that explanation has been accepted by the country's partners in the G-7.
REYHANLI, Turkey (AP) -- Turkish officials are blaming a group linked to Syria for one of the deadliest attacks the country has seen in recent years.
Two car bombs exploded about 15 minutes apart in a town near the Syrian border today, killing 43 and wounding 140 others.
The blasts gutted buildings, and left the streets littered with the charred shells of cars littered the streets. Private NTV television, citing unnamed security sources, said the explosions were remote-controlled and that plastic explosives were used.
One of Turkey's deputy prime ministers says the attackers were from Turkey, but were linked to Syria's intelligence service.
Turkey hosts Syria's political opposition and rebel commanders. It has given shelter to hundreds of thousands of Syrian refugees and in the past retaliated against Syrian shells that landed in Turkey.
BEIRUT (AP) -- A Syrian activist says rebels have been able to cut a newly built desert road linking the capital Damascus with the northern city of Aleppo.
Rami-Abdul-Rahman, who heads the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, said Saturday rebels took over two army posts on the road near Aleppo after days of fighting.
The regime built the desert road as a backup route after rebels captured the town of Maaret al-Numan in October cutting the main highway between the country's two largest cities.
The Observatory also reported clashes in the town of Qusair, near the border with Lebanon.
The fighting in the town came a day after U.N. commissioner for human rights Navi Pillay expessed alarm over Qusair, which has been besieged by Syrian troops for several weeks.
BAGHDAD (AP) -- Iraqi officials say that a suicide tanker truck packed with explosives blew up outside the home of an army intelligence officer, killing three people and wounding 18 others in the country's north.
Police officials say that the Saturday blast heavily damaged the house of Brig. Khalaf al-Jubouri in al-Shurqat, 250 kilometers (155 miles) northwest of Baghdad.
Police said that al-Jubouri's son and nephew were among the dead, but the officer himself was not home at the time.
A hospital official confirmed the casualties. Both officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to talk to media.
Violence has ebbed in Iraq, but insurgent attacks are still frequent.
JERUSALEM (AP) -- Israeli police say protesters are marching in Tel Aviv over proposed tax hikes and benefit cuts.
Spokesman Micky Rosenfeld said about two thousand rallied Saturday night.
Protesters are angry over the proposed decrees by Israel's new finance minister Yair Lapid who started his job several weeks ago.
Lapid ran in January's election on a ticket vowing to help the middle class. The proposed budget hits that demographic deep in their pockets with raised taxes and slashed benefits. Some voters feel betrayed as it appears contrary to a central part of Lapid's popular campaign. Lapid has said the measures are vital for a healthy economy and cuts are across the board. Parliament discusses the budget next week.
In 2011, hundreds of thousands protested across Israel over the high cost of living.
LONDON (AP) -- Geza Vermes, a translator of the Dead Sea Scrolls and renowned for books exploring the Jewish background of Jesus, has died at 88.
Vermes died on Tuesday, David Ariel, president of the Oxford Center for Hebrew and Jewish Studies, said Saturday.
Vermes had an early interest in the Dead Sea Scrolls, a cache of documents written between 200 B.C. and A.D. 200 which were discovered in caves at Qumran, near Jericho, between 1947 and 1956. Vermes published the first English translation of the scrolls in 1962.
The scrolls gave an insight to Jewish practices and thought at the time Jesus was preaching, and they informed a series of books by Vermes on the historical Jesus, notably "Jesus the Jew" in 1973.
LUXOR, Egypt (AP) -- Egyptian security officials say prosecutors ordered a Coptic teacher's detention extended while they investigate her over accusations of blasphemy of Islam and proselytizing Christianity.
Officials say 24-year-old Dimiana Abdel-Nour will be held for another 15 days in the southern city of Luxor where she taught. The defendant, who has denied the charges, went on hunger strike Saturday and was sent to a local hospital.
Separately in another southern Egyptian city, security officials say a Coptic man stabbed his wife for converting to Islam and trying to see their son.
Police say Romany Amir stabbed his wife Saturday in Assiut while she was trying to visit her son at school.
All officials spoke anonymously because they were not authorized to speak to media.
CAIRO (AP) -- Egypt's interior minister says security authorities have arrested three suspected al-Qaida militants who were planning to carry out suicide attacks on vital installations and an unspecified embassy.
Mohammed Ibrahim told a news conference Saturday that the men had been in contact with Dawood al-Assady, a leader of al-Qaida in southeast Asian countries such as Pakistan.
Ibrahim said authorities seized 10 kilograms (22 pounds) of ammonium nitrate, a key ingredient in homemade explosives, and discovered instructions issued by al-Qaida on one of the men's computers.
He said the suspected are also believed to have links with the so-called "Nasr City terror cell," which was broken up last year and its members arrested on accusations of plotting attacks against public figures in Egypt.
BAMAKO, Mali (AP) -- A radical jihadist group in northern Mali that ruled the town of Gao for nearly a year says it was behind the latest suicide attacks.
Alioune Toure, the former head of the Islamic police in Gao, told Radio France Internationale the Movement for Oneness and Jihad in West Africa was responsible for the attacks.
Toure said "the muhajadeen had struck and they're going to keep striking the enemy," according to the interview released Saturday. He called for foreign soldiers to leave Mali and for negotiations between "Muslim brothers of the region."
Three suicide bombers exploded themselves Friday in Gossi, wounding two soldiers. Another attacker in Menaka was killed before he could detonate his explosives.
The attacks highlight the threat still posed four months after France launched its offensive.
ISLAMABAD (AP) -- Former Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif (nah-WAHZ' shah-REEF') has declared victory following an election marred by violence today.
Unofficial, partial vote counts show Sharif's party with an overwhelming lead.
If his victory is confirmed, it would be a remarkable comeback for the 63-year-old Sharif, who has twice served as the country's premier but was toppled in a military coup in 1999. He spent years in exile before returning to the country in 2007. His party weathered a strong campaign by former cricket star Imran Khan that energized Pakistan's young people.
In a victory speech to supporters in the eastern city of Lahore, Sharif expressed a desire to work with all parties to solve the country's problems. The results indicate Sharif's party has an overwhelming lead, but will likely fall short of winning a majority of the 272 directly elected national assembly seats, meaning he would have to put together a ruling coalition.
Attacks against candidates, party workers and voters today killed 29 people.
BEIJING (AP) -- Authorities say 27 miners were killed in a coal mine blast in southwestern China.
The work safety bureau in Sichuan province says 108 miners were working underground when the accident happened Saturday afternoon. Of the 81 rescued, six were seriously injured and nine suffered minor injuries.
Less than 24 hours earlier, another coal mine blast in southwestern China killed 12 people. Friday's gas explosion happened in neighboring Guizhou province.
China's mines are the deadliest in the world. Authorities have improved safety in recent years, but regulations are often ignored.
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