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Nation & World news briefs: April 25, 2013

Iraq

Clashes between Sunnis, security forces prompt fears of wider struggle

With Sunni gunmen beginning to confront the Shiite-led government’s security forces head-on in northern and western Iraq, fears are growing fast of a return to full-scale sectarian fighting that could plunge the country into a broader battle merged with the Syrian civil war across the border.

With more than 100 people killed over the past two days, it’s shaping up to be the most pivotal moment for Iraq since U.S. combat troops withdrew in December 2011.

“Everybody has the feeling that Iraq is becoming a new Syria,” Talal Younis, the 55-year-old owner of a currency exchange in the northern city of Mosul, said yesterday. “We are heading into the unknown. . . . I think that civil war is making a comeback.”

Arizona

Spectacle that has become the Jodi Arias murder trial grows; seat in gallery sold for $200

Ticket scalping is nothing new in the sports and music world, but for a murder trial?

Dozens of people flock to court each day for a chance to score one of a handful of seats open to the public in Jodi Arias’s ongoing murder trial in Arizona. The seats are provided on a first-come, first-served basis, and nearly four months into the trial, the crowds are growing.

This week, one trial regular sold her spot to another person for $200 – and both got reprimands from the court Tuesday.

Desiree Lee, a regular attendee, said another woman had traveled from Michigan to see the trial but couldn’t get a seat because she was too far back in line.

“She was asking a couple of people ahead of me if they wanted to sell their seats,” Lee, who lives in the area, told ABC15 in Phoenix. “I said yes because I can come every day if I wanted to. . . . I seriously didn’t know I was going to get in trouble.

Government says 21 dead in west China clash

A violent clash between authorities and assailants described as a terrorist gang left 21 people dead in China’s restive northwestern region of Xinjiang, the local government said yesterday.

Among the dead in the Tuesday afternoon fighting were 15 police officers and local government officials, the Xinjiang government propaganda office said in a news release. It said six assailants were killed on the spot and another eight were captured alive.

“Initial investigations show this was a gang plotting to carry out terrorist acts and the case is now being further cracked open,” the release said.

A leading activist from the region’s indigenous Turkic Muslim Uighur ethnic group questioned the official account, saying local sources said that police sparked the incident by shooting a Uighur youth during an illegal search of homes.

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