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World

Nigerian marketplace hit by pair of bombs

– Two bombs exploded at a crowded marketplace in the northeastern Nigerian city of Maiduguri on Saturday night, and many are feared killed and wounded in the birthplace of the Boko Haram extremist network, witnesses said.

Bloodied people screaming for help were running out of buildings billowing with smoke, they said. Trader Mallam Samalia said some people were blown apart.

The second blast caught people trying to help those injured in the first explosion in the Bintu-Suga neighborhood of Ngomari suburb, he said.

It appeared to be a car bomb, from a pickup truck loaded with wood, Samalia told The Associated Press.

“I’m seeing people carrying bloody bodies,” he said. “There are parts of bodies littering the street.”

Killings in Iraq remain on upswing

The United Nations said Saturday that violence across Iraq in February killed 703 people, a death toll higher than the year before as the country faces a rising wave of militant attacks rivaling the sectarian bloodshed that followed the U.S.-led invasion.

The figures issued by the U.N.’s mission to Iraq is close to January’s death toll of 733, showing that a surge of violence that began 10 months ago with a government crackdown on a Sunni protest camp is not receding. Meanwhile, attacks Saturday killed at least five people and wounded 14, authorities said.

1-month cease-fire for Pakistani Taliban

The Pakistani Taliban announced Saturday that the group will observe a one-month cease-fire as part of efforts to negotiate a peace deal with the government, throwing new life into a foundering peace process.

Spokesman Shahidullah Shahid said in a statement that the top leadership of the militant group has instructed all of its units to comply with the cease-fire.

“Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan has initiated talks with the government with sincerity and for good purpose,” Shahid said, referring to the group by its formal name.

Cuban Cigar Fest raises $1.1 million

Cigar enthusiasts have paid more than $1.1 million for six handmade Cuban humidors at the gala closing of Havana’s 16th annual Cigar Festival.

Officials said this week that sales of Cuban cigars rose 8 percent last year.

Proceeds from the auction were to go to Cuba’s state-run health care system.

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