U.N. toll at 17 in car bombing

UNITED NATIONS - The United Nations yesterday raised the death toll of staffers killed in the car bombing of its Algiers headquarters to 17, after rescue workers found more bodies buried under rubble.

The newly discovered victims bring the total killed in Tuesday's attacks to 37, according to Algeria's Interior Ministry. Al-Qaeda's North African wing claimed responsibility for the dual suicide bombings of the city's courthouse and the U.N. buildings.

Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said that "words cannot do justice to the grief I feel" and pledged to ensure adequate security for U.N. staff wherever they serve. Two senior U.N. officials are in Algiers to aid victims' families and assess how the organization's many aid agencies based there can safely continue their work.

- Los Angeles Times

S. Africa adopts tough rape laws

CAPE TOWN, South Africa - After a protracted delay, tough new laws against sexual abuse take effect tomorrow in South Africa, which is often called the "rape capital" of the world.

The Justice Ministry said yesterday the law would help the country "fight the scourge of sexual offenses head-on" and would at last give greater protection to victims of sexual crimes. More than 50,000 rape cases were reported last year, almost 150 per day.

For the first time, the definition of rape will be expanded to cover children, and all victims can go to court to force their attackers to take AIDS tests. The law also will set up a register of sexual offenders.

- AP

EU backs off Serbia's inclusion

BRUSSELS, Belgium - European Union leaders backed away yesterday from offering Serbia a fast-track to membership and again cautioned Belgrade that its future entry hinges on full cooperation in handing over war-crime suspects for trial.

Emerging from a one-day summit, the 27 EU leaders also resisted endorsing quick independence for Kosovo, the restive southern Serb province where most people are ethnic Albanians.

There had been speculation the EU might offer Serbia faster entry to cushion the blow of possibly losing Kosovo. But the leaders chose their words carefully, with French President Nicolas Sarkozy speaking of the need to "send a positive signal to Serbia." The summit ended with participants saying a declaration of Kosovo independence would be premature.

- AP

Elsewhere:

A bus collided

with a train in northern India, killing at least 16 people, including nine children on their way to school in Punjab state's Moga district.

U.S. Coast Guard

specialists began aiding a massive sea and land battle to try to contain and clean up 2.7 million gallons of crude oil from South Korea's worst oil spill.

The Royal Canadian

Mounted Police said it would restrict its use of Taser stun guns in response to a watchdog agency report that officers were firing them too often. Three people have died recently in Canada after being shocked by Tasers.