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IRAQ/Deadly blaze at hotel with no fire escapes

A fierce blaze at a hotel without fire escapes sent some desperate guests plunging to their deaths in a northern Iraqi oil boomtown, killing 28 people. Half of those killed were foreigners, a reflection of the thousands of migrants who have flooded the Kurdish region in northern Iraq in recent years in search of economic opportunities. The fire began late Thursday night in the city of Sulaimaniyah and lasted well into Friday morning as firefighters battled the deadly blaze in the five-story Soma Hotel for nearly five hours. Witnesses described a chaotic scene in which smoke filled the hallways and billowed out of the windows, forcing some guests to jump from the upper floors to avoid the flames. Most victims died from smoke inhalation, and the lack of fire escapes contributed to the high death toll, said the head of the city's fire department, Brig. Yadgar Mohammed Mustafa.


MEXICO/Drug cartel sets off car bomb against police

A drug cartel has used a car bomb for the first time in Mexico's decades-long fight against traffickers, setting a deadly trap against federal police in a city across the border from Texas, the mayor of Ciudad Juarez said Friday. Mayor Jose Reyes said federal police have confirmed to him that a car bomb was used in the attack that killed three people Thursday. Federal police and paramedics were lured to the scene by a phone call reporting that shots were fired at a major intersection and a municipal police officer lay wounded at a major intersection, Reyes told The Associated Press. As the paramedics were working on the wounded man, a parked car exploded, he said. Reyes said authorities later determined that the wounded man was wearing a fake police uniform.


IRAN/Insurgent blast hits Revolutionary Guard

A Sunni insurgent group said it carried out a double suicide bombing against a Shia mosque in southeast Iran to avenge the execution of its leader, as Iranian authorities Friday said the death toll rose to 27 people, including members of the elite Revolutionary Guard. The insurgent group, Jundallah, has repeatedly succeeded in carrying out deadly strikes on the Guard, the country's most powerful military force. The new attack was a sign that the group is still able to carry out devastating bombings even after Iran hanged its leader Abdulmalik Rigi and his brother this year.

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