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World in brief: March 22

AFGHANISTAN: At least 29 people celebrating the Persian Nowruz new year festival in western Kabul were slaughtered and another 18 wounded yesterday when a suicide bomber blew himself up near the Sakhi shrine.

The country’s minority Shi’ites typically celebrate the festival by visiting shrines.

Interior Ministry spokesman Nasrat Rahimi said that the killer had approached the shrine on foot and detonated his explosives when identified by police.

FRANCE: Former President Nicolas Sarkozy was questioned by police for a second day yesterday over allegations he took up to €50 million in illegal presidential campaign funding in 2007 from late Libyan leader Muammar Gadaffi.

After spending the night at home in Paris, he returned to a police station in Nanterre to be questioned by anti-corruption police officers.

The legal campaign funding limit then was €21m. In addition, the payments would violate rules against foreign finance and the open declaration of campaign funds.

MALDIVES: Former dictator Maumoon Abdul Gayoom was one of nine people, including two top judges, charged yesterday with terrorism.

Prosecutors did not specify the grounds on which they are charged with terrorism. If convicted, they could be jailed for 10 to 15 years.

As well as the Indian Ocean archipelago’s 30-year ruler, Supreme Court Chief Justice Abdulla Saeed and Justice Ali Hameed, four members of parliament and a former police commissioner appeared at the criminal court.

UNITED STATES: Police in Austin, Texas, reported yesterday that a suspect linked with five deadly parcel bombs in the state is dead after a major police operation.

He was killed after reportedly detonating a device off an interstate motorway in the Round Rock area of the state capital.

There have been four bomb attacks in Austin and one in Schertz, 65 miles south, but neither police nor media has used the word “terrorism” in connection with a “person of interest” depicted as a white male with blonde hair.

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