Iraqis critical of Turkey

for bombing, blame U.S.

BAGHDAD - Iraqi leaders yesterday criticized Turkey for bombing Kurdish militants in northern Iraq with airstrikes that they said left at least one woman dead.

The Turkish attacks in Dohuk province on Sunday - involving dozens of warplanes and artillery - were the largest known cross-border attack since 2003, and they occurred with at least tacit approval by American officials.

Masoud Barzani, leader of the autonomous Kurdish region in the north, condemned the assaults as a violation of Iraqi sovereignty that undermined months of diplomacy. At a news conference in Najaf, he declared that "the Americans are responsible because the Iraqi sky is under their full control."

Elsewhere in Iraq, at least 20 people were killed or found dead in and around Baquba, the largest city in Diyala province, north of Baghdad.

In central Baghdad, a roadside bomb exploded, killing two people riding on a passing minibus and wounding seven others, police and hospital officials said.

And the U.S. military yesterday reported the death of a soldier, saying it was the result of a non-combat injury near Camp Taji.

$7.4B promised Palestinians; Israeli airstrikes kill militants

PARIS - Led by Europe, international donors yesterday pledged $7.4 billion over three years to help Palestinians as new peace talks begin with Israel, yet old Mideast fights over disputed land and freedom of movement shadowed the largest show of support for the Palestinians in more than a decade.

World leaders at the conference urged Israel to ease limits on Palestinian movement in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, following up on a warning from the World Bank that without an easing of the sweeping physical and administrative restrictions donors may be wasting their money.

Israel has been reluctant to lift scores of roadblocks in the West Bank, many of them put there by the Israeli military amid the street violence and suicide bombings by Palestinian militants that followed collapse of the last peace talks seven years ago.

The pledges are meant to help moderate Palestinian leaders in their power struggle with Hamas militants who have seized the Gaza Strip, the smaller territory that, with the West Bank, would make up an eventual independent Palestinian state alongside Israel.

_ On the Gaza Strip last night, Israeli airstrikes blasted two cars in Gaza, killing five Islamic Jihad militants, including a senior commander and a master rocket maker.

Nicaragua appeals court

frees American in killing

MANAGUA, Nicaragua - A Nicaraguan appeals court yesterday overturned the conviction of a Tennessee man sentenced to 30 years in prison for killing his Nicaraguan girlfriend.

Eric Volz, of Nashville, was ordered released from a prison in the town of Granada, 25 miles east of the capital, Managua. Nicaraguan Attorney General Julio Centeno Gomez told Channel 12 television he would appeal the decision to the nation's highest court.

While overturning Volz's conviction, the appeals court upheld the 30-year sentence of his alleged accomplice, Julio Martin Chamorro. Both were sentenced in February for the death of Doris Ivania Jimenez, who was found raped and strangled in November 2006 in a clothing store she owned in the town of San Juan del Sur.

Volz, 28, has proclaimed his innocence from the beginning.

At that time, Volz had lived for two years in Nicaragua, where he founded a bilingual magazine titled El Puente, or "The Bridge." He also worked as a real estate broker.

The case attracted widespread attention in the U.S. news media. Volz's friends and family set up the "Friends of Eric Volz" Web site, which argues his case and sells bracelets to help support his defense fund.The site last night said he had not yet been freed. *

-Daily News wire services